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Class Acts: A Q&A With George Mesrobian

Kristy Ibarra nominated George Mesrobian for Class Acts. Ibarra says her daughter, Shelby, loved his class and excelled at everything Mesrobian taught. He is a calm and compassionate teacher yet firm and understanding.

Name: George Mesrobian

Age: 57

Hometown: Fresno

Occupation: Third-grade teacher at Stroud Elementary in the Empire Union School District

Family: My wife, Pamela, is a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Lakewood School. My oldest daughter, Rya Hibbard, and her husband, Luke, are first- and fourth-grade teachers, respectively, at Hughes Elementary. My youngest daughter, Courtney, is a chemist.

Background: I earned my bachelor's degree in criminal justice-counseling from California State University, Fresno, and my teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus.

Teaching experience: I have taught for 32 years in grades K-3.

Why did you get into teaching? After graduating from college with a degree in counseling, I began working with teenagers in juvenile hall. It did not take me long to realize I would be more effective if I could help children develop proper behaviors at an early age rather than trying to change these behaviors once they were in place as children reached their teen years.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? Working with young children keeps my spirit young. The students create many special moments, involving laughter or humor that keep the lessons upbeat and enjoyable!

What is the most challenging part of your job? California has very rigorous standards in place. Trying to address all the standards in each curricular area before state testing begins is a big challenge. I am a firm believer in standards, but I believe that many students are unable to master the material simply because of the pace we must maintain when presenting the standards. Many students need more time to absorb and master the material.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: We create a city in our classroom and use a monetary reward system. The students have named the city Stroudville. Each student applies for a job, such as mayor, computer tech, police officer, doctor, banker, payroll clerk, etc. Each is paid weekly for their jobs. Money is also earned for homework, good grades on tests, etc. The last month of school, the students create a mall where they each have a store that sells products or provides a service to the second grade classes. Language, writing, math, reading, and speaking are all tied into the Stroudville activities.

What's next in your classroom? The year is just beginning, so the class is in the process of learning the daily routine, how my class functions, and what expectations I require from them. We are learning about each other and the community around us.

Advice for new teachers: My advice for new teachers is to set realistic and achievable goals. Talk to experienced teachers and find out what has worked in the past, then change it to make it your own. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Advice for students: There are always people around you that will help you achieve your dreams; identify these people. Associate with people that have goals and aspirations, together you will be successful.

Advice for parents: Nothing was sadder than going to my daughters' high school "Back to School " or "Open House" nights and see very few parents. I believe high school is an important time for students. Please continue to stay involved with your children and the school during these critical years.

Future plans: I plan to retire in three years, and hope to remain involved in education in some way. When I retire I will also have much more time to spend with my family, friends, and grandchildren.

How do you to reach students not interested in school? All students have something in which they are interested. I develop this interest by bringing in books and various materials to tie their interests into class discussions. Those disinterested students can then make a connection with the class.

What would surprise people about your job? I think people would be surprised by the amount of time most teachers spend working to develop interesting lessons and to create useful materials to help students learn.

What did you do on your summer vacation? The most exciting thing I did during summer vacation was spend time with my granddaughter, Sophia. It was amazing to watch her change and learn to do new things each week.

I also traveled to Hawaii with my wife and spent time with close friends touring the island of Oahu. During the summer, I also played golf, golf and more golf.

COMPILED BY JILLIAN HANKS, BEE NEWSROOM ASSISTANT

"Class Acts" is a weekly spotlight on outstanding teachers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills. See more of this week's Q&A at www.modbee.com. If you would like to nominate someone, please send his or her name and contact information, along with your name, phone number and the reason for the nomination, to jhanks@modbee.com.

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