The school year is now in full swing. Currently, there are more than 3,000 students enrolled in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools on Ramstein – more than 800 of them at Ramstein Elementary School.
Recently, the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office went out to talk with two teachers at RES about their hopes for the new school year and what they did this summer.
Terri Gillespie is a music teacher at RES for kindergarten through second grade. She started teaching 29 years ago, 25 of those years has been spent at RES. Antonia Tinti is a gifted education resource teacher at RES. She started teaching in 1966 and has taught at RES since 1984.
Why did you start teaching?
Ms. Gillespie: I started teaching because I enjoy music. When I studied music, I remembered all of my best and rewarding experiences were with my music teacher. I remembered how much fun we had in our music classes. I just said, “If I’m going to be in the music business, I would just like to enjoy and share music with children.” As opposed to performing, I wanted to work with children because I enjoy it.
Ms. Tinti: My interest was working with children, and I started working in a regular classroom for many years. Later, when I entered into DODDs, I was certified in the field of gifted education. The pleasure of teaching is working with children. It’s being a part of what happens to them and what they become in their future lives – what you have done to make that possible.
What are your goals this year?
Ms. Tinti: My goal is to continue working as we’ve previously done to make this a community. Everybody gets involved with working as a community – the children, teachers and staff members. In a community, everyone has their own jobs, but they all come together to make it workable. Another part is working with the children so they become good citizens later on; they are our future. We have an excellent character education program incorporated, not only in the classroom, but in every facet of this school … the cafeteria, playground and so forth. Hopefully, what we do through that program will carry over to later in their lives.
Ms. Gillespie: My goal as a music teacher this year is to continue sharing the gift of music with children. My goals are to teach children to sing various styles of music, play different types of instruments and share music and its relationship with culture; we also do a little bit of folk dancing as well. As a music teacher of early childhood, I support the core-curricular areas such as literacy, math and science. When we sing from a song book, we support literacy and spatial awareness. When we count beats, we learn math. When I teach sound by vibration, we learn science. We enjoy the music, but we support the other areas. With character education, we teach respect, compassion and trustworthiness. It’s kind of a total program. It’s music, but they’re getting those other core areas as well that can benefit them all together – singing, being a part of a group, performing, feeling good about themselves and enjoying Mom and Dad watching them sing and perform.
What were your biggest accomplishments or achievements last year?
Ms. Tinti: That would be the cafeteria program we’re both involved in.
Ms. Gillespie: Ms. Tinti and I have worked on a program together to incorporate character education not only within our classes but within the total school. In order to incorporate it, I think our largest goal was having a community language, like being respectful. When the children are making good choices, they know they are good thinkers. We worked as a team to incorporate character education not only within our class, but we worked as a team to do it school wide, and we did that through the cafeteria.
Ms. Tinti: We also emphasized a program called STAR. The children had to state their problem, think about what they were going to do, apply it and then review and reflect on it. Everybody worked on that within the school. I think that’s a big accomplishment when you think about it; you’re working with 800 plus students. We’re all on the same sheet of music.
Is there a goal or program you started last year you are trying to expand upon this year?
Ms. Gillespie: Musically speaking, I’ve taken it upon myself to try to integrate a medium of technology called SMART Board. I started last year, and I took a few classes to become familiar. I’m trying to expand my horizon because our children are the global learners; technology is their generation. There’s so much we can do with SMART Board. This year I hope to do more. If I teach the instruments of the orchestra, we can go to virtual concerts, hearing not only an orchestra perform, but also hear interviews from various artists. Education even for teachers is a life-long process to stay abreast of current trends in teaching.
Ms. Tinti: This year the emphasis is collaborating with the regular classroom teacher and working with them to differentiate the curriculum for their children.
What’s your best memory of teaching so far?
Ms. Tinti: Some of the most memorable experiences have been working in different schools with different styles of teaching, like self-contained classrooms, multi-age classrooms and open-space classrooms. I’ve had the experience of doing all that, and I can apply it with the kids at Ramstein. I’ve had a variety of learning experiences. That’s been very important to me.
Ms. Gillespie: There’s one that comes to mind right away. I was just so fortunate. While I’ve been here at Ramstein, I was asked to put together a group of second graders to perform with the U.S. Air Force Band. The group of kids was called the “Candyman Singers.” It started out at the Officers’ Club, and then we were invited again to sing at the club for a group of generals. The finale of it all happened after about a month. We were invited to sing with the band and the Rheinland Pfalz Singers in Wiesbaden, Germany, at one of the international summits. The guest speaker was Helmut Cole, and George H.W. Bush Sr. was also there. I’ll never forget that.
What did you do this summer?
Ms. Gillespie: For the first month, I helped set up the summer enrichment program here at the school. My responsibility was to take care of the logistics part – help the teachers set up their classrooms and get the materials they needed. I was the go-to person while they were teaching their enrichment courses for the summer. I did that for four weeks, and after I finished up, I went to the United States and spent some time with my children and grandchildren, traveling up and down the east coast.
Ms. Tinti: I stayed here for a little while to relax a bit, and then I went back to the United States. I went to upper New York State for a while to visit, then I went to see my family for a while and then I spent a couple of days in Pittsburgh, Pa. Then, I flew back to Germany because I was expecting company from the United States. We did different trips, going down to France and different places. Also, we have to get re-certified every six years, so I finished an online course this summer working toward my re-certification.