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VA Teacher Sings and Dances to Help Kids Read

Fairfax County Public Schools

Faced with the challenge of instructing kindergartners online, one teacher from Virginia took an unusual approach and – in the process – won a big prize.

Before children learn to sound-out words, many school districts urge them to memorize commonly used words like we and me, to and do, when and who.

“Obviously that’s not the most fun thing to learn,” says Amelia Carr, a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington and a rookie teacher in Fairfax County.  To make the lessons more interesting for kindergartners, she made a series of videos.

“Seven A.M., the usual morning lineup," she sang to a Disney tune many kids know.  

She wore costumes, make-up and wigs, used puppets and created characters:

“For the sight word am – like A-M – there was a princess – Princess Am.”

And At was Am’s twin sister.

“So at is A-T, and I happen to know the best place to write at," she told kids in her best English accent. " Right now, at your computer -- it’s perfect!”

For her efforts, Carr was named new elementary teacher of the year by Fairfax County Public Schools – given a trophy and $4,000, but the kids were her real reward. One child cried at the end of the year, begging for more sight words, and a parent sent Carr a video of his child watching her with a big grin on his face.  

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.