Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Beth Travino of Summerville likes to say she is 26 years old plus 20 years experience. Her students certainly benefit daily from that 20 years of experience.
She grew up in Crescent City, Florida, earned her Associate’s Degree in Gainesville and her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Charleston Southern University and her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from The College of Charleston.
She has been teaching for 21 years. Her first nine years were at Knightsville teaching kindergarten. Then, when Fort Dorchester Elementary opened, she went there to teach kindergarten and when Joe Pye Elementary opened – as a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) school – her love of science drew her there. However, there was no kindergarten opening available so she accepted a Pre-K or 4-K position teaching the children most at risk, and getting them ready for kindergarten.
She has an a.m. class and a p.m. class with a total of 40 students.
“I’m an early interventionist,” she says, “and work closely with parents helping them help their children.”
She teaches parents skills to help their children develop gross and fine motor skills.
“We create a community in here for both parents and kids…we call it teamwork.”
Another skill she teaches her students is how to work with others. She does this through what she calls community activities. She describes how each year they build a bus (from a fridge or dryer carton) and when it is finished, they invite bus drivers to come in and see what they have done and hear what they have learned.
In addition to her own students, she has two other classes of children who mainstream with her classes.
“I want to give them [her students] experiences so that they will love school.”
In addition to a full teaching schedule, she is in charge of the horticulture committee for the Day of Caring. “This year we created a turtle habitat,” she says, showing the brick enclosed habitat with pride. She introduces each of the turtles except for Houdini who seems to have disappeared. “He’s hibernating.”
She is also on the Palmetto’s Finest committee and is responsible for decorating the school hallways; she is Reading Recovery certified, a presenter at staff development in Learning by Design; was a PTA Teacher of the Year while at Fort Dorchester, has been a mentor and is involved with lots of committees.
As an undergrad and graduate student she maintained a 4.0 average and earned Outstanding Student.
She says the National Boards [which were gruesome] taught her how to analyze data. “Because of that, I can look at my kids and really know them,” she says.
She raves about her assistant who has been with her since Fort Dorchester. “She’s wonderful and they call us Lucy and Ethel,” she laughs.
That she’s a teacher is somewhat ironic since she hated school most of her growing up years.
“My family said I had to pay my own way, so I paid for college by working for banks.” Her family was in banking and her bank manager dad helped her get her first job as a teller.
The only good thing she says about working in banks is that’s how she met her husband.
Then he got a job in the Charleston area, they married and she came to South Carolina from Florida and, yup, worked in a bank.
“I hated it.”
One of her friends, a teacher at Hanahan Elementary, talked her into spending a day in her third grade classroom.
“It was life changing,” she says, “I went home and told my husband I wanted to go to school to become a teacher.”
He put her through school. She did her student teaching at Ashley River Elementary School in kindergarten and “fell in love with that age group.”
“I am a creative, crafty person and kindergarten was my niche…watching their faces when they are learning something…they are so excited.”
Her worst experience, she says, is probably every year when she has to let go of her kids. “It’s hard to let go…you’ve developed such a bond.”
Every year is her best experience.
“I’ve got kids who are so shy they won’t talk to me or others in class and at the end of the year, we do a play, and it is so amazing to see them on stage….”
She tells of one little boy who was absolutely terrified to get on stage. He was a knight and didn’t have to say a word. “He thought he had the best part in the whole play.”
“I had a kid come back when he was in high school to tell me I was his best teacher. It fills your heart.”
Professionally, she is thinking about getting her PhD. “I went to school and learned how to teach regular kids and I want to learn how to help children with disabilities…I feel I need to know more to help them the best.”
She sighs and laughs and says she isn’t very good at talking about herself and compares herself to the contestants in Miss Congeniality who give lavish accounts of their strengths and what they want to achieve always ending with World Peace.
At home, she and her husband David are parents to Andrew, 18, Lauren, 13, Ally, a turtle, Hailey, a cat and Roo, a gerbil.
She used to have rabbits too.
She enjoys sewing and knitting, saying she can’t sit still so she knits while on car trips or watching television so she can sit there for a long period of time and focus.
A big love of hers is working outside. “I want to be a Master Gardener when I grow up,” she laughs.
Does she enjoy cooking? “Oh no, absolutely not!”
“When we got married I tried cooking but my husband wouldn’t eat it, so I said ‘fine…you cook!’”
As a family they love to scuba dive and they have a little lake house in Florida where they enjoy camping and hiking.
“And I love to travel.”
Her life goal is to be the best person she can be all the time to everybody.
And World Peace..