Social Emotional Learning. It didn't always start out as THIS.
When I first started teaching, I thought the "stuff" I was doing was just good teaching. I thought it was "stuff" that EVERYONE did.
And as I started entering into more and more classrooms, observing my peers, and then walking and listening in the hallways, it was then that I realized that it was different. It was very different. I WAS DIFFERENT.
I've always just taught from my heart. My teaching style was always loving, caring, FUN...I mean, these were my KIDS before I had my own KID! And no matter what age I was teaching, from high school all the way down to the littles in kinder, it was always heart centered. I was always passionate, and I was determined to take each group of students through an incredible year.
And not only was I determined to make my students' year incredible...I wanted to support and love on their families too. Because we ALL were heart centered. And we needed to be on the same page, and speak the same language in order to truly meet the needs of their child.
And then one day ONE child, one incredible child, more incredible than any child I had ever met, walked into my classroom and literally changed my life FOREVER.
THIS is her mother's testimonial.
"I remember the first time I met Kim. It was Open House at my daughter's school. I was scoping out the first grade teachers to see who I thought would be the best fit for my daughter, who would start first grade in the fall. There are few things more nerve racking than starting over with a new teacher when you have a child with special needs. We made our way into Mrs. Gameroz's classroom and waited our turn to chat with her. When we got our chance, my daughter asked her if they did science in her class. One of Mrs. Gameroz's first graders was standing next to her and she asked the student if she could tell my daughter about what they did for science in their class. I perked right up seeing that she was facilitating a social interaction between these two students. I was immediately impressed by her, but had no idea just how much I would grow to love her over the next year and beyond.
My daughter ended up getting Mrs. Gameroz for her first grade teacher and had the most amazing year! She was the perfect combination of support and challenge that my daughter needed. Not only that, but the environment she created in her classroom was unlike anything I had ever seen. Every time I went into that room, I was in awe at how smoothly things ran and the community she had built among her students. There were systems that she created and used all day long. Her students knew those systems and thrived in that structured, predictable environment. They also supported one another, which was beautiful. Lucie made genuine friendships that year that are still going five years later with friends that really get her, accept her, and can offer her support if she needs it. Boy was that one magical year!
After that magical year, Mrs. Gameroz watched my daughter and a number of her other students struggle after leaving her class. And struggle in serious ways. My daughter began to say things like, "There is no place for me at school." As a mental health professional, this caused great alarm knowing how prominent secondary mental health concerns are for kids with neurodevelopmental disorders. This troubled Mrs. Gameroz deeply, as well, and she was constantly trying to figure out a way to be able to influence her students' ability to continue to thrive beyond her first grade class.
Towards the end of that year, during her search for a solution, Mrs. Gameroz was introduced to some systems that all teachers could use to help support students like my daughter, as well as students in general. She took this information and went running full speed ahead with it! She immediately started using it in her classroom, and realized this is what she had been doing all along. She started spreading it to other classrooms in her school. Then to other schools in her district. Before I knew it she was spreading it district wide! It was a dream come true!
I can't even begin to tell you the impact this has had on my daughter's happiness, well-being, and success at school. Suddenly everyone, teachers, staff, and peers, are speaking her language. Rather than being in trouble for her social learning needs, she is being supported and taught so she can learn and grow. These systems create a safe, calm, empathetic, supportive school climate that both teachers and students can thrive in! It has been just beautiful to watch!
From the bottom of my heart, I thank Mrs. Gameroz for all she has done for my daughter, me, and the education system in general. It is no longer as nerve racking moving on to the next grade. She found a way to spread her magic beyond the walls of her classroom. This has literally been life changing. We are just one of the families that she has helped. I get goosebumps thinking about all of the lives she has impacted and will continue to impact. She is making the world a better place one system at a time, and for that I am forever grateful.
So teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone who wants to support kids in the best way possible, Kim is the absolute best! Her passion and drive for this work is incredible and I can't wait to see all she continues to do!"
- Dr. Jane Gordon
Parent, Professor, & MFT