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Cool Teacher: The Tutu Teacher, Vera Ahiyya
Vera Ahiyya brings passion for books, singing, and tutus (!) to her kindergartners.
PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Vera Ahiyya has many passions. One of the most noticeable is her love of tutus, which she wears often. She also has a deep passion for teaching, having come from a long line of educators. But her deepest-held one is bringing books to kids. “As a child, I devoured books. Yet, I can barely recall ‘seeing’ myself in those books. After hearing Rudine Sims Bishop’s quote about books being windows and mirrors, I knew that providing those experiences would be of the utmost importance.”
School: Kindergarten teacher, Brooklyn Arbor Elementary, Brooklyn, New York
Career Path: “I graduated with my MAT in 2006 and taught for 12 years in Austin, Texas, and Boston before moving to Brooklyn. Teaching is in my blood. My parents are educators. My maternal grandparents were both teachers. My great-grandfather was the principal, teacher, and bus driver for his school in Mesquite, Texas, and has a school named after him. I have a lot to live up to!”
Teaching Philosophy: “I want to be the type of educator who helps children fall in love with learning. So, in any and all ways, I try to embody that ideal.”
History slideshows: “A few years ago, I felt the lessons I was teaching around Black History Month were very surface level. I was only discussing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., and not digging deeper. So I created a slideshow to introduce my class to a new black leader each day in February. Students started asking great questions about racism, gender roles, geography, and history. We had such great discussions that I created a women’s history slideshow to use in March. Parents told me their kids were coming home and teaching them what they had learned, and they asked me to send them the slideshows to continue these conversations. Kids were making connections to these leaders in ways I could only have dreamed of!”
3 Fun Tools
Karaoke mic: “I let kids use it to answer questions. I find even my shyest students love a moment in the spotlight.”
Kwik Stix: “The perfect way to paint with zero mess. I let my students use Kwik Stix when we want to brighten up their work but don’t want the hassle of cleaning up loads of paint.”
Seesaw app: “This is a fun way to have students document their learning. The best part? It lets me share their work with families!”
What are your goals for your kindergartners?
“To love reading and to always try to do what’s right—even if they feel scared or unsure.”
Photo: Courtesy of Vera Ahiyya
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