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Rocklin teacher heeds the call to teach

By: Lauren Weber The Placer Herald
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To be successful at any career, a certain amount of passion is needed. For Laura Gillette, a kindergarten/first-grade teacher at Cobblestone Elementary School in Rocklin, she knows this. “It’s a passion,” she said of teaching. “To me, teaching is a calling.” Gillette has been with the Rocklin Unified School District for 14 years and taught at a private school in the Bay Area before taking a long hiatus to raise her four sons. She returned to teaching as a full-time substitute teacher within RUSD after her sons had grown, she said. “I just wanted to make sure I still had the passion,” Gillette said. For Gillette, she knows passion is important, but there are other factors that make a successful teacher. “I think teachers tend to be lifelong learners themselves and that’s what I consider myself to be,” she said. “You have to love children. I love how real they are, how curious they are.” As a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, the focus is on reading, writing, spelling – the basics of building the learning foundation. “Kindergarten and first-grades are magical ages to me,” she said. Many of the students get to experience things for the first time – or at least the first time they remember, at the age of 5 or 6 – like the first rainfall of the season, when her students want to jump in the puddles and walk in the rain, Gillette said. In addition to teaching, Gillette also spends her time as a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment teacher, mentoring a new teacher. “I love teaching, but I also love working with my colleagues,” she said. “We have an incredible staff that is united in a goal that is striving and finding what’s best for the children at our school. We are a professional learning community.” In addition to mentoring, part of Rocklin teachers’ goals are to collaborate with other teachers, not only teaching the same grades, but teaching the grades above and below. At the meetings, the teachers “find ways to reach all the children at all the different levels,” Gillette said. Having been a credentialed teacher for more than 30 years, Gillette said she’s constantly learning and reflecting, which she finds key to reaching her students. “A teacher has to have that reflection to really learn and move forward because some things don’t work,” she said. “I feel like I learn everyday from colleagues, my parents.” Part of what makes Gillette so relatable to her students is that she shares stories about her life outside the classroom with her students. She said her students know all about her children and her hobbies. For one of Gillette’s students, Jason Lusardi, it’s his favorite thing about his teacher – “when she shares stuff with us, reads stories to us,” he said. But what makes teaching such a passion for Gillette is when students show they are absorbing the material. “When their eyes light up – when the light goes on and they just sparkle,” she said. “That is the magic of first-grade.”