Class Acts: A Q&A With Shirleen Domitrovich

Heather and Billy Warthan and their daughter, Makayla, nominated Shirleen Domitrovich for Class Acts. The Warthans said Domitrovich's way with children is amazing. Her class is full of adventure in every corner, which helps in reaching all learning styles of her students. Domitrovich is a positive teacher and shows that she truly cares about and loves all her students.

Name: Shirleen Domitrovich

Age: 57

Hometown: Modesto

Occupation: Kindergarten teacher at Sonoma School

Family: Husband, Mike; son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Stephanie, Missoula, Mont.; daughter, Sally, Turlock.

Background: Modesto Junior College; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; bachelor's degree from San Jose State University; teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus

Teaching experience: Burbank School, 1976-1982; Sonoma School, 1982-present. She has taught kindergarten and second through fifth grades.

Why did you get into teaching? While I was at MJC, I took a sociology class where I volunteered in a classroom at Tuolumne School. I loved working with the students and thought that maybe I could make a difference in their education. In addition, the experience made me smile. What a great occupation -- to do something that you enjoy doing every day. Nothing beats that!

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? The favorite part of my job is working with the students and watching them grow in so many ways every day. They come in full of wonderment. I also am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing colleagues and a teaching partner who give me support and laughter on a daily basis.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of teaching kindergarten is getting 20 4- and 5-year-old children to work together as a team. Each child individually makes a valuable contribution to our class, and we are all stronger when we work together.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: Celebrations! We celebrate the successes of the children by choosing a cheer from the cheer jar. All types of achievements are celebrated.

What's next in your classroom? After spring break, we will be getting ready for our Amtrak field trip. Sonoma has a jogathon every year to pay for a field trip for each class, and kindergarten has taken a train trip for about the past 15 years. Amtrak has been very accommodating to us, by providing us our own car for the short journey from Modesto to Denair. Upon arrival, a bus picks us up and takes us to Stanislaus State for a picnic. Having a picnic at Stanislaus State shows the students how close a university is to them and if they work hard, they, too, can have the opportunity to attend college.

Advice for new teachers: Stay idealistic, and don't let complacency creep in. Enjoy the experience, and have a sense of humor.

Advice for students: Always try your best, and don't worry about the other children. You only have control over yourself, so make it count in a positive way. Keep trying when things get tricky, and remember that there is more than one way to get an answer.