Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Darcy Gimmestad: Helping Children Grow Socially and Emotionally

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, DEL would like to highlight some of the state’s outstanding teachers from varying programs and areas.

Darcy Gimmestad is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program instructor at Meadowcrest Early Learning Center in the Renton School District. She was recently selected to pilot and present on the special “Second Step” curriculum in Washington D.C. as she was active in the practical use of it in her own classroom.

"Second Step" is a step-by-step program for early learning, elementary and middle school learners involving social and emotional tools.
“The first stage is self-regulation like listening skills,” said Gimmestad. “Everyone needs these skills. The second is about feelings—recognizing their own feelings and the feelings in other people.”
Darcy Gimmestad in class.
The curriculum covers everything from making friends and joining in, to basic and personal safety skills like seat belt safety and safety from sexual abuse.
“We practice to stop and think,” said Gimmestad. “And they really get it. I have had a lot of success with this program.”
One of the qualities that makes Gimmestad an exceptional teacher goes beyond the curriculum she was chosen to pilot. She is genuinely happy for her students as they achieve academic goals throughout the year.
“The children really learn and grow,” said Gimmestad. “They come in to my classroom and they don’t have any academic or social skills. Some of them can barely speak English. But after time, they know letters, some of them can read. They love it. They love being here. That’s the foundation I want to build for them—to love learning and to be happy human beings.”
Gimmestad currently has 18 students, the majority of which do not consider English their first language. But she admits she loves working with children from different cultures.

The teachers at Meadowcrest in Renton are celebrating their second year in a brand-new facility and with teachers like Darcy Gimmestad, they have a lot to be proud of.
“We are blessed to have a new facility and a great principal,” said Gimmestad about her work environment at Meadowcrest. 
Thank you Darcy for piloting and practicing a winning curriculum that will better prepare young learners for their futures!

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