Q&A: Marissa Barbarino, Pre-K Teacher

Actions is a new editorial feature from Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child. Each week we will spotlight the dedicated faculty and staff across the PK-12 campus who make a difference in the lives of OKS students and the life of the school. This week, we feature:

Marissa Barbarino

Lead Pre-K Teacher at Oak Knoll’s Little Acorns Pre-K

Q: Why is it exciting to be part of the first year of Oak Knoll’s brand new preschool program, Little Acorns?
A: It is exciting to be part of the first year of Oak Knoll’s Little Acorns Pre-K because it is growing the Oak Knoll school community for the better. Little Acorns has a beautiful, brand new learning environment and outdoor playground.

Q: What are some of the important themes preschool students can expect to learn this year at Little Acorns?
A: Pre-K has an exciting year ahead of them. Units of study that we will cover in our Connect 4 Learning curriculum include learning about the environment, how structures are built, exploring museums, and growing a garden. We will continue to learn about many lifecycles. So far we have watched “Squiggly,” our tadpole, evolve into a frog. We learned about the lifecycle of pumpkins and we will be sure to learn about more as the year progresses.

Q: How does Little Acorns balance appropriate levels of play with learning in each school day?
A: The school day is structured with both time for free play — during which children can choose which centers to play in — as well as structured schedules devoted to subjects such as math, read-a-louds and early phonics skills. We are fortunate to have a variety of educational Apps on our iPads as well that the students can explore. We enjoy taking nature walks and learning about the environment by being outdoors on our beautiful 11-acre Oak Knoll campus.

Q: In your preschool classroom, how are Oak Knoll’s youngest students being challenged and how are you weaving in Oak Knoll’s core missions of faith, wisdom, and service?
A: Pre-K had the opportunity to participate in their first service activity in October. They learned that we were making breakfast bags to help those that do not have a healthy breakfast to eat every day. We are excited to take part in more service events this year. The students are living Oak Knoll’s core goals every day in our classroom. As we start our morning each day in prayer, we ask God to love, care, and watch over us throughout our school day. We talk about the importance of being kind to one another; showing ourselves, friends, and teachers respect. We remind our students that we are all new learners and sometimes things will be challenging and difficult but to always try our best.

Q: How is the Little Acorns program developing our students’ young minds to prepare them for 21st Century learning?
A: The Little Acorns program is preparing our youngest students for 21st Century learning through our Connect 4 Learning Curriculum which implements literacy, math, science, and social emotional skills. We are prepping our Little Acorns to develop early foundational skills that will help them learn ways to think creatively, work collaboratively, and most importantly, provide them with a learning environment that is exciting and makes them fall in love with school.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching preschool?
A: My favorite part of teaching preschool is watching the excitement of my students as they grow, explore, and learn something new each day!

Marissa Barbarino earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and master’s degree in Elementary Education from St. John’s University in Queens, New York. She has eight years of experience as a Pre-Kindergarten lead teacher at a private independent school in Staten Island, New York. Marissa is a dog mom to a two year old Goldendoodle named Miles and enjoys spending time with her family and friends and is looking forward to traveling again, soon!