When you walk into Shana Arrington’s third grade classroom at Fairfax Elementary School, the first thing you might notice is the reading loft in the back. Arrington’s parents built it from an old staircase.
â€œYou can see the pins where the top of the stairs, the shelves were the stairs and the ladder is the bottom of the pins,â€ she said. â€œMy kids go up there and read. They love it. “
The Reading Loft exemplifies Arrington’s exciting and hands-on approach to teaching. She said it makes reading more fun.
There is always something going on in her classroom.
â€œI call it controlled chaos,â€ she said. “I always know what’s going on, but we’re always busy and involved here because I feel like if you do and get your hands on it, you’ll remember it.”
Arrington was “extremely surprised” to find out that she had been chosen as her school’s teacher of the year when school principal Beth Chandler announced her at a faculty meeting. Chandler mentioned that the Family Teacher of the Year was hiding nearby, shortly after Arrington’s three-year-old son came up to her with flowers.
â€œI immediately cried and got really excited,â€ Arrington said. â€œShe shared everything parents and other teachers and colleagues had said about me, and I was very honored. Hope I live up to their expectations they talk about and live up to everything they said because it was so kind, very caring.
One of the most flattering compliments she’s received is the result of a mother asking her child what he liked about Arrington’s classroom, to which he replied that he liked Arrington.
Arrington was also praised for his good communication.
â€œAnd I like it because as a parent, myself, of the school, I want to relay everything that is happening, even if I am absent,â€ she said. â€œIf we do the fun thingsâ€¦ For example, we made a pumpkin pie in class. I reached out and let all the parents know what we were doing. I send them pictures. I use two different apps: I use Remind and ClassDojo to communicate with the parents of my school babies.
Parents also complimented Arrington’s fun teaching style and the way she keeps her grades up to date.
Every Friday in Ms. Arrington’s class is â€œFun Fridayâ€. Last Friday, her students made a pumpkin pie in a bag.
â€œThe previous Friday we were learning more about spiders,â€ she said. â€œSo the fun Friday thing was that they were able to make spiders out of Oreo cookies and pretzels. And of course, I sent pictures of that to my parents.
Also on Fridays, students can hold Caesar the bearded dragon, one of the two pets in the class. Arrington also puts the classy hamster, Chewy, in a special car-like hamster wheel, which he “drives” around the room.
â€œThe kids think it’s so much fun, and so do I,â€ she said.
Arrington’s class does a lot of projects. Outside her classroom, on the hallway wall, there were posters the students had made about different types of birds.
Arrington jokingly tells his students that when she grows up she’ll want to be Mrs. Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus”.
â€œIf you’ve ever watched ‘The Magic School Bus’, it’s the teacher who always does something fun,â€ she said. â€œHe’s kind of my idol. Yes, she’s a cartoon character, but she’s always innovative in her learning style. She always does something fun. And if I could really take a magical school bus, I would, and that’s what I want my kids to know – that I want learning to be fun. I want it to be magic.
Arrington’s favorite thing about his job is seeing a college student finally grasp a concept he struggled with.
This is Arrington’s first year of teaching at Fairfax and his first year of teaching in third year. She taught first grade for 10 years at WO Lance Elementary School in Lanett. At first, she was afraid to teach in third grade, but found that she liked the fact that third graders were more independent than first graders.
â€œIn first grade you spend more time tying shoes on and helping them do a lot of things, you can’t do higher-order things,â€ she said.
Before becoming a teacher, Arrington was a hairdresser. For a while, she worked in New York City for Conair. She always cuts her hair to the side and teaches Sunday School and Wednesday evenings at her church. She also helps with her eldest son’s soccer team.