There’s a saying in Katie Bredeweg’s second-grade class at Stoney Creek Elementary: “Once a student, always a student.”
As if to prove the point, once she’s had a student, he or she often comes back.
“We are a team and we are a family, something that is established from the first day,” Bredeweg said. “I have past students stop by my classroom every day to say hello and it truly warms my heart. It’s something that really makes me proud as a teacher.”
The family atmosphere in her classroom comes from a focus on relationships, Bredeweg said.
“We have a community of support in the classroom that optimizes learning,” she said. “Without that sense of community, we wouldn’t have the same level of compassion and care that makes learning soar.”
Prior to working at Stoney Creek, Bredeweg was as a reading specialist at Pine Island Elementary. After taking some time off to raise her four children, Bredeweg came across the open second-grade position she now holds.
“I love the lower elementary level, it’s my favorite age,” Bredeweg said. “It was just a right place at the right time situation. I am so blessed.”
Comstock Park’s diverse population is one of Bredeweg’s favorite parts about her position, she said. Since her own children go to Forest Hills schools for a Spanish immersion program, encouraging and addressing diversity is extremely important to her.
“Having people from different backgrounds adds so much to every day and I really value that cultural diversity,” Bredeweg said. “It’s what makes my job really fun and meaningful.”
‘The Best Teacher Ever’
Peter Meyers, a second-grade student in Bredeweg’s class, couldn’t imagine a better teacher.
“She’s just the best teacher ever,” Peter said, “She reads to us and she’s really good at that, and she makes the best silly voices. She’s the best teacher you could ever want and she’s so nice to all of us even when we’re loud or crazy.”
One of the most popular activities among Bredeweg’s students is the “fuzzies” program, in which students get rewarded for reading achievements and good behavior. “Fuzzies” can be turned in for special privileges, like getting to wear pajamas to class or not having to wear shoes in the classroom.
“It’s super fun and we get the best prizes for reading, which we all like,” said Ava Kreuger. “The more we read, the more we learn and the more fun things we have.”
The wide variety of activities makes Bredeweg’s classroom go above and beyond, said Klohe Stoner.
“My favorite parts about being in Mrs. B’s class is I get to see my friends and we have a lot of fun in class because she has fun activities for us to do,” she said. “Every day it’s something new.”
An Education Family
Bredeweg was no stranger to the world of education. Coming from a family of educators and holding a degree from Aquinas College in Elementary Education, Language Arts and Early Childhood Development, she felt drawn to the classroom, she said.
‘Without that sense of community, we wouldn’t have the same level of compassion and care that makes learning soar.’ — second-grade teacher Katie Bredeweg
“My mom is a principal and my aunts, uncles and brother all work as educators,” Bredeweg said. “Teaching has always been a part of our family and who we are.”
Growing up around teachers is what drove her passion for learning, Bredeweg said.
“When you’re around educators, especially when you’re growing up, you realize how much they do and what an impression that have the opportunity to make,” she said. “It’s hard to not go that way when you see what you can do.”
If Bredeweg could share a couple pieces of wisdom with incoming teachers, she would recommend striving for balance, especially in the first years.
“Be prepared to bring your best every day,” she said. “You’re going to have days that are really, really hard and you are going to have days that are more amazing than you can imagine. Just remember to be the best you can be; the kids deserve the best.”