With mentor support and a grant, first year teacher sets up classroom for success

Lauren Dicken ('12), a kindergarten teacher at Timberline Elementary in Grapevine, Texas, received a grant last spring to help set up her first classroom with containers and storage materials. She submitted these photos of her classroom and shared a few words with us about how she is doing in her first year.

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"My name is Lauren Dicken and I am a recent graduate from UNT's College of Education. My last year of college was exciting with clinical observations and student teaching. As if I wasn't busy enough, I decided to apply for a grant from the Kindergarten Teachers of Texas (KToT). My grant was for all types of containers and storage materials for my "future" classroom. I was notified by the grant committee that they had never given the grant to a student teacher but they were impressed with my grant and gave me a $1000.00 grant to spend at the Container Store and because they liked it so much, and they paid for my last semester at UNT. After graduation, I was interviewed for a kindergarten position at Timberline ES in Grapevine. They offered me the job a few days later and I have not slowed down since!

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"I spent the last few weeks in July and August getting my room set up. My mom, who is a retired educator, helped me set-up and organize my classroom. I have been collecting materials for several years so I had plenty of materials to get started. For the past 3 years, I have been going to garage sales to get children's books for my library. During the summer, I organized my books into genres and developed an organizational system that would be easy for my kinder students. My students love the library and that is their favorite place in the room.

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"I have learned so many things since beginning my career this year. I have subbed for a couple of years so I had some background knowledge. One of my best resources is a college professor of mine that strengthen my literacy background. Mrs. Rosie Alexander is an amazing teacher. She always told us that she is our teacher for life and if we ever needed help, she was there. I really wanted to get her opinion about my room setup before school started. I invited her to come see my room and I was so thrilled when she came! I want Mrs. Alexander to know that everything she shared and taught me was so beneficial and had a huge impact on me. I am a stronger teacher because of her.

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Lauren Dicken with Mrs. Rosie Alexander, adjunct faculty member in Teacher Education & Administration

"I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues this year as we share and plan for our students. I hope to be able to attend the Kindergarten Teachers of Texas Conference or the Reading Recovery Literacy Conference held in Dallas. This is such an exciting time in my life and I love every minute of it!"