1760 Spotlight - Joy Holmes

Current position(s) at GA: Lower School Literacy Specialist

Number of years overall at GA (including this year): 23

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Why have you chosen to stay at GA?
I stay at GA because I continue to be energized by my part in providing an outstanding educational experience for young people. Every day I go to school hoping to inspire young people to be the best they can be and I return inspired, a better teacher, and a better version of myself. I feel privileged to be working in an environment where collegiality and personal and professional growth are encouraged and valued.

What do you most enjoy about teaching at GA?

1) The children. It is a great responsibility and opportunity to help welcome our youngest students into the world of literacy and help them navigate the learning to read and write process in a fun and successful way so that it is something they know they can and want to do

2) My Colleagues. Working with my colleagues developing a high quality literacy program is an ongoing process that challenges and motivates me. Together we strive to deepen our understanding of student learning and best practice and ask ourselves, “How can we do it better?”

What do you hope to provide to students in your classes and what do you hope they take away?

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I hope to provide them with a safe, supportive, and playful environment where they feel empowered to build foundational skills and strategies allowing them to take off as readers and writers. I hope to help make what can be a demanding literacy journey accessible to all students.

I hope they take away identities and habits as readers and the motivation and confidence to develop skills and strategies to navigate obstacles and to continue to grow as readers and writers.

What do you value about the home/school partnership?

Parents are their children’s first and continuous teachers. I know that children learn best when parents and teachers work together as partners to encourage and support them to be successful individuals. We are in this together and It is essential that families feel supported, appreciated and nurtured.

What GA tradition do you enjoy most?

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The Piszek book donation for our Lower School is one of my favorite traditions. With technology changing the landscape of childhood, it is wonderful to see reading promoted as a gift that brings people together, impacts our learning, and helps shape who and how we are.

What is a classroom activity unique to you?

In my early years at GA, Alphabetia, was a fictitious place where my puppet friends lived, traveling regularly to classrooms systematically helping students to learn vowel sounds and how words work. The original puppets, Madam Adam Apple, Iggly Igloo, Eddie Elephant, Ollie Octopus and Ummy Umbrella still exist and now reside in the actual village of Alphabetia. Here students are welcomed to come play, and explore literacy, safely, joyously and in good company.

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What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from your students?

To treasure the little things and to savor the small moments.