A school year full of surprises

When we caught up with teaching veteran Robin Burk, she was just kicking off her Second Step lesson with her first grade class. Second Step is the district’s Social Emotional Learning curriculum that was adopted back in 2019.

“Second Step begins the year with lessons on paying attention and how to handle distractions, which will help them be better learners,” said Burk. “With most of our first graders coming to school with little to no classroom experience after COVID, this program is more important than ever.”

This is a unique year for all of us. For Burk, it’s definitely a year that stands apart — and she should know, as she’s been teaching at Graham Elementary for 30 years. “I have been here so long that I have taught the children of former students,” she said. “The kids are what got me into teaching, and they are what bring me back year after year.”

Even when the year is full of surprises.

“There is never a dull moment in a classroom full of first graders,” she said.

Social Emotional Learning is all about giving students the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions. It helps them achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. These are important lessons for all students, and even more so for students who learn differently and need more supports.

Focus On Social Skills

Kym Marsh teaches Primary FOSS at Graham Elementary. The students she works with range from kindergarten to second grade.

“What I love about Social Emotional Learning is it allows us to reach the child as a whole,” she said. “It really focuses on teaching students what it is like to be a part of a group, how to interact with others and how to accept everyone and how to self regulate.”

Marsh said her students thrive during their time in her class.

“They are seeing things from different perspectives and are really engaged with one another. It allows people from all ability levels to be a part of a group no matter where their skills are at.”

This year marks the 11th year Marsh has been teaching, with 10 of those years at Graham Elementary.

“What I still love about teaching is knowing that for these kids I am their biggest advocate alongside their parents, and to be honest the impact that the kids have on my life is what keeps me going. I learn so much from them. I also have a team that has become family to me, the support that we give each-other is one that is unique. Watching the victories no matter how small or big they may be is truly the greatest reward and gift. These kids truly are the best.”




Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

‘Science Fair’ Director Cristina Costantini on Why Science Education Matters

It didn’t have to be like this

[Picture of playground with caution tape]

Letter to the Editor: a message from current and former Sunrise Movement leadership

3 Best Apps For Learning Serbian Fast

Adventures of a Teacher Summer (Summer Institute Day 4 -July 15

Why the Turing Awards are Different this Year: Perspective of an Iranian Computer Scientist

Deciding on a DAT date: Five tips for determining when to take the DAT

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Bethel Schools

Bethel Schools

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

More from Medium

Craig Steven Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto

Self-Directed IRAs — Investing for Retirement with Crypto and Other Alternative Assets

New To Crypto? Here’s Where To Start


A gift from Las Vegas