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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Judi Holst

School: Rocky Heights Middle School

Subject: Language Arts

State:  CO

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

Two people inspired me to become a teacher. One of them was my aunt, Marti Brandt. I remember spending holidays cutting things out for her classroom when I was growing up, and I thought about how I wanted to be just like her. I know that sounds strange, but she just seemed like a magical, mysterious person to me.

Another person was my third-grade teacher, Julie Hey. Ever since I had her in 3rd grade, my road to becoming a teacher hasn't swayed. She was inspiring, funny, and best of all, she chose me to be a Kickball All-Star. You can't beat that!

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

This is my 21st year of teaching, so A LOT has changed, especially technology. I find that grading, planning, answering emails, etc., take up a lot more of my time because of technology, so it definitely has its pros and cons. Now that parents and students can see my gradebook online, I have to leave more comments online, instead of just on a student's paper. I spend a lot more time creating SMART Board lessons so that my lessons are interactive, and I also spend a lot more time reading blogs and writing a blog of my own. I also spend a lot of time answering parent emails, but it's also nice to be able send my students an email, if I need them to know something while I'm at home. 

When I started teaching, there wasn't even a computer in my classroom.

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

I would tell a new teacher to find someone in your building that you like, trust, and who is willing to spend some time with you during your first year. There is nothing like a mentor teacher to help you that first year. It doesn't have to be the one who is assigned by administration, or even a person in your department. It should be someone who has been teaching for awhile, but still loves to teach. It should be the person who knows the ins and outs of how the building works, but is still willing to test the waters when appropriate. It should also be the person who will tell you when you have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe because you decided to use the students' bathroom during your three-minute passing period.

My best day in the classroom was when…

Oh gosh, this is a difficult question to answer. 

We decided to have a "Read-In" on our team. We had all 150 8th graders read for an entire day in our team wing. We had guest readers come at different times (teachers, principals, parents, etc.), who would read aloud from their favorite book or picture book to the kids; the rest of the time, we all cuddled together on the floor, wearing our slippers and just enjoying a good book. It was wonderful!

The best compliment I ever received was...

In part of an award nomination that I received from a student this year, she said, "I always get a sense that Ms. Holst genuinely cares for her students' lives and all the things that involve being in middle school. She feels like an aunt to me and I just want to validate all that she does for her students. Ms. Holst is the reason that Language Arts is my favorite subject."

She wrote more than that, but those words kept me going for months!

What's your favorite part of the school year?

My favorite part of the year is when we have our mock trial in my classroom. It is the last unit of the year, and the students run the court trial on their own for three days. The parents are the jury members, and each student has a part in the trial. I just sit back and watch how much they have grown up since the beginning of the year. Nothing is scripted or planned. They have to do all of the critical thinking, questioning, etc. I am always extremely proud of my students during those three days.

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

Sticky notes

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

I make a protein smoothie and drink it on the way to work. I don't make time to sit down and eat a warm breakfast; I only do that on the weekend.

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

"The Sound of Music"


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