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Teacher’s mom makes positive impact in kindergarten classroom

Teaming up with her daughter as regular volunteer

Comstock Park — Stoney Creek kindergarten teacher Arianne Greenlee has a special volunteer in her classroom — her mom.

Roseanne Betlej has been helping in her daughter’s classroom off and on since 2011, two to three days per week, a few hours at a time. Greenlee said the students are always excited when she explains that “Mrs. Betlej” is her mother. Betlej is greeted by the kids with excitement and hugs, and they’re enthusiastic when it’s their turn to work with her.

“Kindergarten is busy and there is much to learn and do,” Greenlee said. Some children need extra time, she explained, so her mom works with kids individually or in small groups on skills like counting, identifying letters and sounds, reading sight words and decodable books. Betlej also enjoys helping students make crafts.

“I retired quite a few years ago,” Betlej said. “I enjoy doing this. It keeps me busy.”

Volunteer Roseanne Betlej helps kindergartners Brody Varney, left, and Julian Lopez build a garden on the hallway wall

Sticker Books Help Make Words Stick

One job that keeps her busy is being the overseer of stickers. 

“One of our goals in kindergarten is to read 50 sight words,” Greenlee said. To help students reach that goal and encourage home involvement, they bring home sight-word sticker books. Students practice learning 10 lists of words at home and bring their books back to school on Monday. 

Kindergarten teacher Arianne Greenlee enjoys having her mom, Roseanne Betlej, as a volunteer in her classroom

“My mom sits with the kids, one at a time, and every time they can read a new word, my mom adds a sticker to the book,” Greenlee said. The students earn prizes for increasing the number of sight words they can read.

“It is a time-consuming process to check sight-words sticker books, and I am so thankful that my mom has taken on this job,” Greenlee said. 

Betlej said she takes her cues from her daughter’s teaching style and tries not to interrupt. Greenlee describes her teaching style as structured and firm yet nurturing. 

“I try to make learning hands-on and fun,” Greenlee said. “My mom has picked up on my expectations and the way that I talk to and interact with my students, and she follows suit.”

Betlej is impressed by how much kindergartners learn compared to bygone days.

“I’m amazed about how they respond to Arianne,” she said, adding, “I’m extremely prejudiced but I think she’s a fabulous teacher.”

Roseanne Betlej gives encouragement to kindergartner Abby Shelner with her garden project

Read more from Comstock Park:
Going to the mat got him to graduation
Learning division is easier with cupcakes

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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry covers Comstock Park. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years of experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be a part of the great team of journalists at School News Network and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools. She is a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School in St Joseph, Michigan and Central Michigan University. Read Karen's full bio


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