Class Acts: A Q&A with Hannah Bretz

Amber Szabo nominated Hannah Bretz for Class Acts. Szabo said Bretz is dedicated to her students, tries to make the curriculum fun and cares for each of her students. When off from school, Bretz also works with the children at her church.

Name: Hannah Beth Bretz

Age: 25

City of Residence: Modesto

Occupation: First-grade teacher at Stockard Coffee Elementary

Family: Mom, Leslie Bretz, and dad, Alan Bretz

Background: Bachelor of science and credential from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Teaching experience: Four years teaching first grade at Stockard Coffee

Why did you get into teaching? I decided I wanted to be a teacher in elementary school. I absolutely loved my teachers and wanted to be a positive influence in students' lives, as my teachers were in mine.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I love to see the enthusiasm my young students have for learning new things. They have such an excitement for life, and it is fun to see that carried into the classroom.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Each year, our district adopts new curriculum for one subject area. We spend a lot of time designing lessons for the new curriculum.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: This sounds very basic, but I think student white boards are amazing. I can get immediate feedback to see what my students understand, and which students may need more assistance. That one little tool encourages all students to actively participate in the learning process. My students think it is such a treat every time they get to use them.

What's next in your classroom? I am excited to implement the new technology that has recently become available at my school. Our school district encourages the use of technology in the classroom, and I am looking forward to learning new ways I can enhance lessons through the use of this technology.

Advice for new teachers: Establish a good working relationship with your colleagues. Having teaching "buddies" you can work well with will make all the difference. Don't be afraid to ask for their advice or help, but be willing to give back to the team, too.

Advice for students: School is not a competition. Always try to do the best you can, and be proud of your accomplishments and growth.

Advice for parents: Read, read, read! Read with your child every day to help create an interest in books, build vocabulary and support comprehension.

Future plans: I am working on taking more classes to strengthen my abilities as a teacher.

How do you try to reach students not interested in school? I find out what my students' interests are and use that to connect with what I am teaching. If a student loves sharks, bugs or airplanes, I use it.

What would surprise people about your job? Parents are often surprised at the high expectation level we have for our students. The standards students are expected to meet are rigorous, but with hard work and support at home, students rise to meet them.

What did you do on your summer vacation? I got to take a wonderful cruise to Alaska with my family. I also spent time with friends and read some good books.