Jordan Plummer: Embracing role of kindergartners’ ‘helper’ at BRES

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 7:45am

Story Location:
238 Townsend Avenue
Boothbay Harbor  Maine  04538
United States

Jordan Plummer had been looking for a particular item for a while. When she found what she wanted — a play kitchen for her classroom — on Facebook Marketplace, and for only $70, she pounced.

She delivered it to the classroom at Boothbay Region Elementary School on Saturday, Sept. 8, and it was waiting for her kindergartners when they returned to school Monday.

“They were thrilled.”

That’s one way for a new teacher to make an impression.

Plummer joined BRES after a year of teaching combined pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at Georgetown Central School. This is year two in the classroom for the 2017 University of Maine-Farmington graduate. Being at the beginning of her teaching career played into her decision to seek the job in Boothbay Harbor.

“I loved it in Georgetown, but it was super-duper small and there was talk about combining some classes in the future,” she said. A sympathetic administrator suggested Plummer check out other openings in the district, and that’s how the offer arrived from BRES.

A walk around Plummer’s room offers a view to the world opening up to her students. There’s color and light, books of all kinds, alphabets and foreign words, and tactile experiences around every corner, like the new kitchen, for example. After a year with Plummer, the students will head off into classes that are increasingly serious and regimented. She aims to reach students where they are now, to prepare them.

“They’re 5 years old,” Plummer said. “We play, and we learn through play. And the transformation at that age is super-fun to watch.”

Plummer, who grew up in South Bristol, said she felt drawn to teaching by the kind of kid she once was. “I just have always liked being the adult,” she said. “When we played teacher, I was the teacher. I was always the one to lend a hand with my friends, or to give them advice. I’ve just always liked being a helper.”

She acknowledged that the  age of her students, who don’t yet have extensive time in a structured school environment, poses teaching challenges.

“That’s the hardest part for me. I want to hold them to a high expectation, but I also have to know where they are right now. We have short bursts of learning, and then we’ll do a silly dance or sing a silly song. And then another short burst of learning.”

Props help. When Plummer is having the kindergartners repeat words and phrases, she’ll give voice to a stuffed animal, Echo the Owl. That way, the kids don’t feel they’ve been put on a spot by a teacher, she said. They’re just talking to a friend.

The payoff comes gradually — and then all at once. “I love the reactions to learning a word. Or when they learn to write a letter. Their eyes get big. They’re so excited. I love that part.”