New Moscow teacher not wasting time

First grade teacher Jayne Wang talks about the wheat grass her students will grow at Lena Whitmore Elementary School on Tuesday in Moscow. Wang is preparing for her first year as a teacher in the Moscow School District.

Lena Whitmore’s newest first grade teacher plans to hit the ground running in her first year with the Moscow School District.

Jayne Wang, hired by the MSD in April, has already posted two projects to the school fundraising site www.DonorsChoose.org, supporting modest projects to include in her new classroom — one of which is already fully funded.

The first project called for $331 to support a first grade “listening lab” and included money for a portable CD player and a set of children’s books accompanied by an audio version of the story. The idea, Wang said, is to allow students to listen to a fluent, engaged reader as they follow along. Selections funded by the campaign include books like the “Berenstain Bears,” “Frog and Toad” and “Amelia Bedelia.”

Wang said those titles are meant to reflect a spectrum of reading aptitude she expects to find among first graders. She said the lab will serve to level the playing field for students who struggle with reading and allow them to approach the material in their own time at their own pace. The project was fully funded in less than two weeks.

“It’s so important for kids to hear fluent reading and have somebody read with expression and voice and really enjoying what they read — that’s what really every child should get to experience,” Wang said. “Some kids are from homes that are low-(income) — they don’t get to hear that, they’re not read to at all, so as a school, I think we have a responsibility to make sure they have that opportunity.”

The second campaign, Wang said, would fund a “grow lab” complete with hydroponic plant pots, a grow light and shelving to hold the plants. The price tag for the project comes in at a slightly less ambitious $172, and thanks to a pledge from Google to match all donations, the whole project could be funded for $86.

Wang said growing plants in the classroom will allow her to approach numerous subjects in an illustrative, tactile way. She said the lab could include wheatgrass or marigold, which grow relatively fast, or even lettuce. The important thing, she said, is that students are engaged.

“In this digital age, all the kids are on the iPad, they’re on the computer, they’re on video games — but having a grow lab in the class really does relax the mind,” Wang said. “It helps them reconnect with life cycle — from the seed to a plant — and it’s something tangible that they can watch grow and help take care of.”

Originally from Salt Lake City, Wang taught Chinese immersion in the Utah school system for 12 years before coming to Moscow. Language immersion courses typically include instruction in various courses like math and science administered in both the student’s native language and a second language with a goal of promoting bilingualism.

While she may incorporate a little Chinese language and culture into her classroom at Lena Whitmore, Wang said it will just be one tool in her toolbox. She said her main goals in her first year with the MSD are to serve the community and help every student find success.

“They say the number one predictor of student success is the teacher — if the teacher is effective,” Wang said. “One part of it is the teacher being able to let the kids know, ‘Hey, we’re learning this together, I’m learning with you, and I will make mistakes.’ ”


Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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