|Classroom Teacher: Ms. Sara LaPlante
Classroom Paraeducator: Ms. Dawn Sawula
Special Education Teacher: Ms. Leanne Hunt
This is my 15th year in education and I have been teaching at Pelham since 2017. I have always been drawn to small-school communities and Pelham Elementary is just that! I love working in a school where children feel known and seen, and where teachers can build lasting partnerships with students and families. I believe each child’s natural curiosity is a springboard for deep learning experiences. In third grade, we lay the foundation for a growth mindset so that learning becomes a joyful and lifelong pursuit. I want my students to see themselves as change-makers, scientists, mathematicians, writers, and researchers.
I’ve taught third, fourth, and fifth grade over the years and have worked in schools in Amherst, Greenfield, Taiwan, Washington State, and Guatemala. I love what I do and third grade is my absolute favorite grade to teach. Third graders are increasingly independent, ready to take on challenges, and -best of all- full of silly humor!
I live in Amherst with my husband, Adam, our cat, Totoro, and our dog, Iroh. When I’m not teaching, I love to read, ride my bike on the Rail Trail, work in my garden garden, travel, and play board games with friends.
Third grade is a year of unbridled growth, as students build on their learning from earlier years to gain deeper knowledge, ask big questions, and develop their skills as self-motivated and independent learners. Third graders are an industrious bunch and tend to enjoy the increase in responsibility that the next year of school brings. Teachers help channel this enthusiasm and energy into engaged learning in the following areas:
– In-depth Social Studies and Science studies: Weather and Climate, Force & Motion, Magnetism, Variation and Adaptation, New England Geography, The First Peoples of New England, and The Pilgrims & Puritans. In these units, students refine their critical thinking skills as they carry out research projects and tackle complex problems. We take field trips to a UMass Engineering lab, Amherst College’s Beneski Museum, The Hitchcock Center, Historic Deerfield, and the Pelham History Museum to learn hands-on!
– Reading and Writing units: Fables, Folktales and Myths, Realistic Fiction, Personal Narratives, Black American Inventor Biographies, Author Studies, Poetry. In addition, we teach spelling, handwriting, and grammar explicitly and systematically.
– Math units: Place Value, Multi-digit Addition and Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Fractions, Units of Measurement, Graphing and Time
– Social Emotional/Gender and Sexuality units: Anti-Bullying, Building Friendships, Problem Solving, Self-Regulation and Communication, Self-Love and Appreciation, Consent and Boundaries, Learning About Bodies, What is a Family?, Me and the Media, and Gender and Sexuality.