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Annual Report | Education:?Lincoln Elementary teacher followed her lifelong career goal

Teacher Liana Schaefer instructs her students during guided reading as part of the 21st Century Summer Learning Community, Bemidji Area Schools' summer school program. Monte Draper|Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - She decided to be a teacher when she was 7 years old.

By the time she reached college, her passion for education hadn't disappeared.

Liana Schaefer, 29, graduated from University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in elementary education and has taught reading recovery and Title I at Bemidji's Lincoln Elementary for three years. She is currently working toward a master's in literacy education through St. Mary's University online.

"Reading recovery is a one-on-one reading intervention, where I work with some of the lowest first-grade readers on getting them up to grade level," Schaefer said. "For Title I, I work with small reading groups. This year I taught kindergarten and first grade."

While she may not be a typical classroom teacher, Schaefer's days still have the same structure of a regular classroom, she said.

"In the morning I start with my reading recovery part of my job, and I meet with four students for a half an hour each," Schaefer said. "The lessons are very individualized based on what the student has shown me the day before on how they have processed what they learned."

She then spends her afternoons with kindergarten and first-grade groups working with a program called Leveled Literacy Intervention, which provides reading lessons tailored to each specific child.

Prior to teaching at Lincoln, Schaefer taught second grade at Horace May Elementary for two years and said it's hard to say which position she likes better.

"Being able to see daily student growth is really the part that I love right now," Schaefer said. "I wouldn't want to say I like it better, but it's just so different. It makes me excited to come in the next day."

Unlike many teachers, Schaefer's job doesn't end once summer comes around. Schaefer is one of the teachers involved with the 21st Century Summer Learning Community, Bemidji Area Schools' summer school program.

Schaefer said she decided to teach summer school after Kathy Palm, the district's curriculum director, said she wanted Leveled Literacy Intervention to be part of the program.

"I saw the opportunity and some of my other colleagues had been part of it," Schaefer said. "I thought it would be fun to be part of. I really think the program works well."

As she teaches her students using guided reading groups and math stations, Schaefer said she tries to keep the atmosphere more laid back than during the school year.

"I try to keep it as structured as possible so in the academic portion we are still helping the kids move and grow," Schaefer said. "But there's a little bit more flexibility in having some fun time along with that and getting to know the kids."

While being a teacher is more work than she expected it to be, Schaefer said at the end of the day, it's all about helping her students further their education.

"Sometimes it's tough to stay positive with the changes that go throughout our building," Schaefer said. "But we have to move forward and find the best ways to educate these kids. I do love it and I do love learning what the kids need and tailoring my job to them."