First-grade teacher Beth Ferguson has been a member of our Early Childhood faculty for nearly two decades, teaching students from Pre-Kindergarten through second grade.
Mrs. Ferguson holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Trinity International University and an M.A. in Curriculum Development from National Louis University, plus 15 additional hours of Special Education courses.
In her time at Morgan Park Academy, she also has served as Dean of Early Childhood and directed our Summer Camps and ABC programs.
Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?
I began teaching at the Academy fresh out of college. I taught second grade for eight years, loving the time I had with Kathy Keelan as a teaching partner! Then I taught at a CPS alternative school for children with behavior disorders. I learned a great deal about myself and my teaching philosophy during that time.
I happily returned to MPA to teach kindergarten, preschool, and first grade. I’ve always loved teaching in the Early Childhood department. Having taught 3-year-olds through second-graders has given me a good understanding of each level and child development at each stage.
Throughout my 25-plus years of teaching, I have truly appreciated the small class size at MPA and how much autonomy we have as teachers. It allows me to get to know my students individually, so that I can encourage and challenge them.
“Teaching to the whole child” means a great deal to me. I believe that every child has natural gifts and talents, along with challenges that they need to work on. Finding balance for our students is what helps them develop into the best that they can be, in school and in life. I think children learn best when teachers use a variety of learning activities, like singing math songs with music, drawing a picture before writing the story, and using physical movement throughout the day in order to keep them focused and engaged.
What are your favorite moments with a student?
My happiest moments of teaching occur when I get to see a student shine. For some children, they excel in academics, while others are fierce in physical activities in gym, or creating a beautiful piece of art. We always find budding actors in our plays each year too! As both a teacher and as a parent, I am thankful for our school’s “whole child” philosophy and teaching our students to think outside the box, to get along with others, and to be responsible and thriving citizens.
What professional development activities have you participated in recently?
I believe that professional development is a win-win for our students and teachers. Going to teacher conferences always excites and re-energizes me. Learning about brain development, hands-on learning, and how and what to teach helps me to be a lifelong learner who is current in early childhood education practices.
What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I am an avid reader who loves mysteries, dramas, and historical fiction. I always have 3-5 books on my Kindle! I love being outside and enjoying nature. I’ve been known to pick up stick bugs, caterpillars, praying mantises, and other interesting bugs that I come across outside. I love arts and crafts and scrapbooking. Painting parties are my newest favorite thing!
What do you want your students to take away from having known you?
I hope that my students learn that we all make mistakes and it’s OK. If you’re not making mistakes, then you aren’t growing or trying anything new! I hope that they feel safe and successful in my classroom and learn to love reading as much as I do.