CLASSROOM HIGHLIGHT - 3RD GRADE
RUSTIE PRECHEL INTERVIEW
Rustie Prechel has been a teacher at St. Ann’s for 11 years. Her first five years were as a 2nd grade teacher and she is now in her 6th year in the 3rd grade classroom. Rustie and her husband, Dave, have 3 children - two sons in college and a daughter who is a senior at Stoughton High School. They have been active members of the Stoughton community - mostly thanks to the many activities in which their children have participants over the years.
The Prechels moved to Stoughton after graduating from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1995. Dave was working in Madison when Rustie started teaching in Janesville, and Stoughton seemed like the perfect town to put down roots. Rustie grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin - another picturesque historic Wisconsin town - and taught Special Education in Janesville for five years before deciding to stay-at-home while their children were young. In 2006, she converted to Catholicism, and the following year responded to an opening at St. Ann School. Read the interview below to learn more about Rustie and hear what is going on in 3rd grade:
What is your favorite part about teaching 3rd graders?
I truly enjoyed teaching 2nd grade, but I find myself loving 3rd grade, too. Third graders are amazing! Every day they grow in their reading and math skills, and we have some excellent class discussions! Third graders love school, love learning, and love each other - and I get to witness it all. I am so blessed.
What is the class working on now?
December was a very busy month for 3rd graders. In Religion they studied and tried to memorize the stories of the Jesse tree - our salvation history. Starting with Creation in Genesis, to the prophets, to Jesus' birth – highlighting the real “reason for the season.” In Social Studies, we learned about world cultures and mixed in Christmas traditions from around the world. It became easy to see that Santa does have a big job, but not as big as we think. Many people around the world don't get gifts for Christmas. They might be another religion, they might wait until 3 King's Day (January 6), or they might give gifts away - donating their time and money to those in need. In Reading and Language Arts we focused on "gingerbread stories." I have over 35 different versions of The Gingerbread Man that the students read, compare and contrast as we learn about story elements like character, plot, and setting. Then students write their own version, and we celebrate by reading them and constructing gingerbread houses. So much fun!
What do you like to do when you are not teaching?
Many of my hobbies were tied to my children, and now that they are grown, my husband and I are discovering new interests. We have always loved going for walks, but now we like to visit other towns and neighborhoods to go for our walks. There is so much to see.
Do you have a favorite student story to share?
Once I had a student who loved little Matchbox cars. Every day he would sneak one into his desk, even though I have a policy that toys should stay in lockers. One day, he was leaning back in his chair (as so many children like to do, even though their teachers tell them not to!), and he fell backward with his desk landing on top of him. Ever so slowly, little matchbox cars came raining out and skidding all over the room! I was worried that he was hurt, but when he started laughing, I couldn't help but laugh, too!
How would you say you strive to live the St. Ann’s mission in your teaching and/or with your students/in your classroom?
I have been very blessed to have taught so many of the students here. I really enjoy watching them grow and live our school mission every day. I get introduced to them at recess as Kindergartners; am renewed by watching them receive First Eucharist as 2nd graders; really get to know them as 3rd graders; and then watch their personalities grow as they turn into teenagers here in 8th grade. I helped to implement our "Faith Families," which has changed over the years, but still nurtures the spirit of community, leadership, and faith. Witnessing the older students mentor the younger students is one of my greatest joys.