Teacher of the Week: Rhonda Rhodes, third grade, Arthur Grade School

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

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After growing up on a farm in Lovington, Rhonda Rhodes settled with her husband in nearby Arthur. At Arthur Grade School, where she’s worked since 2005, the third-grade teacher works hard to engage her students, whether that’s by taking them on a virtual trip down the Oregon Trail, by playing them music or by showing her positive personality.

“Ms. Rhodes has been a long-time teacher and advocate for children at Arthur Grade School,” Principal Andrew Peralta said. “Her positive demeanor, instructional skills and relationships within our community make her an amazing asset to the school. Whether through the sponsorship of our spelling bee or mentorship of newer teachers, Ms. Rhodes is a leader in our school and one that we could not do without. She is very worthy of this recognition. “

I find my work important because … every day I have a chance to invest in the lives of students. This could be teaching and igniting interest in a subject area or just having a friendly conversation that lets a student know they are valued.

I became a teacher because … while I was in grade school, I watched my mom finish her college degree in education. She took classes while juggling farm work and raising children. She would often involve me in her classes, and I saw the way she interacted with students in such a positive, creative way. I knew that was the career I wanted, too.

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is … the Oregon Trail. We play the games kids would have played and make food. We look at maps and see the hardships. We have a card game to simulate the trail to see what those early pioneers experienced.

My most fulfilling moments on the job are when … my students become so excited about a book we are reading together or a book they have chosen themselves. Their excitement is so fun to see and contagious! I also love it when past students tell me what they remember most about third grade. Hugs from former students are so meaningful and remind me why I am in education.

I keep students engaged by … many hands-on activities. Especially in math, students use manipulatives and fluency games that really keep them engaged. Showing enthusiasm and being creative with assignments also increase engagement.

Something else I’m passionate about is … music. Music has so many benefits in the classroom and beyond. It can be a mood lifter, spark creativity, provide social-emotional growth and even help us learn, like today, when we sang a song about adverbs. I always play a string quartet when students are writing, and they love it! I also play piano at our church and help in the primary department teaching songs about faith and scripture.

My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was … Music and math were my favorite subjects in school. Gail Rinker was my favorite teacher at Lovington Grade School. She taught second grade, and her kindness is what I remember most. Judy Uphoff was my favorite high school teacher. Her passion for education really stood out to me.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be … working with children in other ways, whether it be through an outreach program, church or music.

— ANTHONY ZILIS

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