4-14-2017 – Corona – Meet Michael Hughes! He is a Kindergarten Teacher at Parkridge Elementary School.
Michael has been a teacher for ten years.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Fullerton.
He began his teaching career at McKinley Elementary in Corona where he taught sixth grade. Michael also taught Kindergarten/TK at Todd Academy for a total of 6 years and one year of Kindergarten at Jefferson Elementary.
“I am currently at Parkridge Elementary school looping from TK to Kindergarten every two years,” he says, “All of my years of service has been with CNUSD.”
Michael decided to pursue a career as an educator because of a teacher who touched his life.
“My great aunt was an elementary school teacher in San Diego for 34 years,” he says, “She had a tremendous influence on my life from an early age and introduced me to the world of education.”
When Michael was a second grader, he would tell people he was going to be a teacher.
“More specifically, I would tell them I was going to be a kindergarten teacher,” he says, “I am quite literally working at my dream job. Each day is a blessing, I am eternally grateful that I get to do what I love.”
His favorite part about being a teacher is instilling a love of learning into his students.
“Being a kindergarten/TK teacher for the past nine years has allowed me to be the first teacher most of my students have had,” he says, “I enjoy connecting with my students on their 4 and 5-year old level and creating a fun and engaging atmosphere.”
He loves the challenge of bringing the standards and curriculum come to life for his students in a way that is relevant to their lives as a four and five year old. Michael appreciates the challenge of meeting his students at their level and bringing them the standards in a meaningful and silly way.
“Yes, I said it, silly, I figure the best way to teach kindergarten is to become a kindergartener,” he says, “So on most days, I am just that, a giant 5-year old.”
His teaching philosophy is simple.
“I have to serve the ones I lead,” he says, “In order for me to be any kind of leader I must first realize I have to serve them and meet their needs before any learning can happen.”
He spends time during the first few months of the school year getting to know his students and their families.
“I try and make connections with them about their lives and talk about matters that interest them daily,” he says.
He says students must know he has their best interest in mind and feel the climate of safety in the classroom before learning and achievement can commence.
“Creating a climate of respect that goes both ways, teacher to student and student to teacher is key,” says Michael, “I have to influence their learning in such a way that it will stick with them throughout their education.”
Michael begins his days by lacing up his Superman Converse.
“I put on my Superman cape socks, lace up my Superman shirt and attach the cape and fly out of my house to only arrive at Parkridge Elementary school in minutes,” he says, “By minutes I mean over an hour, the traffic is insane!”
He greets his students with energetic high fives the moment he sees them and tries to connect with each of them before starting the day.
“I will then, not literally, fly around the classroom during calendar and take my spot on my own carpet square,” says Michael, “I let the kids lead our calendar and am a willing participant if my name is selected. This is our classroom.”
His students have designed and created much of what they do. Their voices are a necessary and valuable asset to the learning community. Students have their English Language Arts block mixed into into their Daily Five time and have micro lessons during transition time.
“This had added to increased achievement. Hands on learning is the standard in kindergarten and in our classroom,” he says, “If we can see it and touch it, we must! If we can build it and create it, we must! Because even in our failure there is a lesson to be learned.”
In his class, risk taking and respecting that risk in their learning is encouraged and praised. Their all-day kindergarten atmosphere is one of movement, dialogue, laughter, music and high energy. He calls it full contact learning.
“If they aren’t tired before leaving my classroom then I got something wrong,” he says.
His goal for 2017 is to learn from 2016. He desires to grow from his experiences.
“I do not always set specific goals, per say, but rather assign myself to a trajectory,” he says, “I use my successes and failures in the classroom as a teacher to build up for the next year.”
His favorite hobby is spending time with his wife and six children.
“I enjoy teaching bible study along my wife to our children each week,” he says.
His favorite quote is, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well…”
Knowledge is wisdom and wisdom is power. Knowledge cannot be taken away.
“This proverb is meaningful to me because it reminds me how precious each bit of information my students learn is,” he says, “It is a foundation that is built upon that nobody can take away from them. It is valuable, it is a means to their future and should be valued as such. But also as the conveyor of the knowledge, I have a huge responsibility to fulfill in their lives.”
As their teacher, Michael is thankful for the opportunity to influence lives and show his students their lives and education matter.
“There is a teacher and learner inside each of us,” he says.