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Washington Elementary kindergarten teacher helps students learn through study and play

Angela Lash is the Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month for October. Nominate your favorite teacher with the attached form in the story.

Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month - Angela Lash
Kindergarten teacher Angela Lash sings along with kindergarteners after being recognized as the Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Washington Elementary School in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — There was a lot going on Wednesday afternoon in Angela Lash's kindergarten classroom.

A couple of students were coloring. Another was sculpting Play-Doh. One student approached Lash and asked how to spell "continent." When they walked over to the whiteboard, she realized the student really wanted to know how to spell "consonant."

As a teacher of very young students, Lash has a front row seat to these young minds just starting to grasp a myriad of different concepts.

"I've fallen in love with kindergarten; I really have," she said. "They grow so much in this year compared to the other grades I've taught. They blossom."

Lash teaches at Washington Elementary, one of Rochester's choice schools. It's located just north of Civic Center Drive near John Marshall High School.

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She has a long history of teaching in Rochester. Prior to her 12 years at Washington, Lash taught at Bamber Valley Elementary for 10 years, although there were a number of years between her time at the two schools.

Cindy Zhou is the parent of a former student of Lash's. She said Lash helps put parents at ease with how much she has her students' best interest at heart. Zhou also referenced a comment her now-first grader made about Lash.

"Mrs. Lash is kind and she shines like a star and she helps every student," Zhou quoted her child as saying.

Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month - Angela Lash
Kindergarten teacher Angela Lash sings along with kindergarteners after being recognized as the Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Washington Elementary School in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

At Washington, her class has structure. Near the front of the classroom, there is a list of activities the students do throughout the day: number corner, math, snack, music and more. But, they also have designated times where the students take the helm of their own learning and follow their interests — times for creativity within the broader structure of the day.

Her students are still working on the very foundation of what it means to learn in a formal setting. Because of that, the process can take many different forms. Some students may be able to write sentences. Others are still learning how to communicate with letters and sounds.

"Their range is really, really wide," Lash said. "Their writing could be a picture. That could be their communication — just in art. It could be a picture and maybe the first sound of the word. And some can get a lot of the letters."

But, as much time as they may spend on actual subject areas, Lash knows her students learn just as much during the unstructured part of the day.

During an open time in the afternoon, a couple of her students started playing their own version of a segment the class does earlier in the day where they identify which letters are vowels and which are consonants.

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As such, they were bringing the two worlds together — formal learning and play. Lash laughed when she saw one of the students acting out the role of the teacher.

"We ebb and flow between play and work," she said. "Play is a kindergartner's work as well. A lot of learning's happening here, whether it's fine motor or artistic, or just building social skills."

Teacher of the Month winners receive a certificate, flowers and a $50 gift card to Townies Grill'd Philly Subs and More . Students of the winner receive Dippin Stix from Reichel Foods and a certificate for a free kid's meal from Townies.

Nominate your favorite teacher by downloading and mailing the form below:

Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month - Angela Lash
Adam Gehling, with the Post BulletIn, presents kindergarten teacher Angela Lash with a Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month certificate Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Washington Elementary School in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month - Angela Lash
Kindergarten teacher Angela Lash smiles while being recognized as the Post Bulletin Teacher of the Month on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Washington Elementary School in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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