Donna Martin nominated Robin Cole for Class Acts. Martin said Cole has brought her daughter, Brittney, out of her shell and has her raising her hand and participating in class. Cole always has a smile on her face, makes learning fun and exciting for the whole class and has a great sense of humor.
Name: Robin Cole
Occupation: Fourth-grade teacher at Valley Home School
Family: Three sons (Kevin, Patrick and Casey), daughter-in-law, Michelle, and grandson, Austin, 11 months
Background: Born and raised in the Bay Area, received a bachelor's degree in history from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a teaching credential from Chapman University, Modesto.
Teaching experience: Taught Title I classes for seven years in Oakdale elementary schools and fourth and fifth grades for the past five years at Valley Home School.
Why did you get into teaching? My parents were great role models. My father was a high school teacher for over 30 years and my mother taught ESL and Spanish in adult education classes, so I guess it's in my blood!
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I love seeing my students' enthusiasm when learning new things that will help them become responsible adults and lifelong learners.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Students come to school with such a wide variety of life experiences, needs and abilities. It's challenging to teach the standards and meet the needs of every student.
Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: My favorite activity is our annual overnight field trip to Asilomar in Monterey. We visit the tide pools, the Monterey Aquarium and Mission San Juan Batista to support the fourth-grade curriculum.
What's next in your classroom? We will be raising salmon eggs to release in the Stanislaus River in February. The kids learn about the salmonid life cycle, food chains and caring for their environment.
Advice for new teachers: You have the power to make or break a child's day. Treat your students with kindness, fairness and respect, and they will return the favor.
Advice for students: Always do your best so you can be proud of anything you put your name on!
Advice for parents: You are your child's first teacher. Set a good example, be involved in your child's education, and read with them everyday.
Future plans: Continue teaching until I retire and can afford to buy a little beach house in Mexico!
How do you reach students not interested in school? I try to find out what they are interested in and develop lessons that teach the necessary skills around those topics.
What would surprise people about your job? People would be surprised at how much time and effort teachers spend after school preparing for the school day.
What did you do on your summer vacation? I worked a lot in my almond orchard and baby-sat my new grandson, Austin, as much as I could!
COMPILED BY JILLIAN HANKS, BEE NEWSROOM ASSISTANT
"Class Acts" is a weekly spotlight on outstanding teachers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.