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As part of Pennock’s specials courses, Carolin Gardner teaches a literacy program for all of the school’s students from grades kindergarten through fifth. This program is the only of its …
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As part of Pennock’s specials courses, Carolin Gardner teaches a literacy program for all of the school’s students from grades kindergarten through fifth. This program is the only of its kind in the Brighton 27J School District. Gardner taught fifth grade at Pennock for four years until starting the literacy program last year. Students read and write, create and act out their own plays and participate in puppet theater. Gardner starts many lessons by reading aloud. On a recent visit, she read to kindergartners from Judy Schachner’s book, “Skippyjon Jones, Lost in Spice.”
“I would love to see every school have a class like this,” she said. “There is such a profound need to enhance literacy.”
Gardner was raised in Germany and came to the U.S. permanently at age 16. She obtained her American citizenship at age 21. She thinks this helps her relate to her students who come from other countries or don’t speak English as their first language.
“I tell stories about coming from Germany, about having an accent,” she said. “It helps a lot. “This is the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I have the best job in the world. It’s my passion, and I love it. But I really don’t think of it as a job; I get to come to school and play all day.”
Gardner and her husband also own the Cold Stone Creamery in Brighton. “My students always come in and ask, ‘Will you make my ice cream, Mrs. Gardner?’” she said. The couple has two children, a son who is a junior in high school, and a daughter in sixth grade. When she’s not teaching or working at the Cold Stone store, Gardner likes to be outside with her family and enjoys hiking.
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