SPRING HILL — Challenger K-8 teacher Margie Yurtinus recently helped her students celebrate what they learned this school year with a literary cafe. Parents and grandparents were invited to her classroom for lunch and a chance to see how her students grew in literary skills.
Yurtinus has been teaching kindergarteners how to read and write in Hernando County for 31 years. She has been at Moton Elementary, Westside Elementary, Suncoast Elementary and J.D. Floyd, which is now a K-8 school.
She saved writing pieces every month through April and early May for the cafe's display.
"It showed their growth of writing and reading throughout the year," she said.
At the beginning of the school year, Yurtinus said, children are generally nonwriters. The children learn some phonics and sight words and their writings are combinations of both.
She said she encourages the children to write about what they know. The focus, she said, is on enjoying writing and expressing their thoughts and getting them down on paper and adding details. Worries about spelling and correct grammar can wait.
As they complete projects, the children take them to Yurtinus, who goes over revisions with them individually and tries "to nudge them along to another level," she said.
Besides writing about things they know, the children also write about what they learn in class. A big project this year was about Colonial times. They discussed and wrote about various topics like the era's foods, games and George Washington.
"They do a lot of reading through their writing pieces," she said. "We do writing every day."
At the literary cafe, where the children served fruit, vegetables, quiche, muffins, doughnuts and beverages to their guests, there were a number of examples of each child's work. Parents were asked to choose their favorite of their children's pieces and distinguish it with a sticker.
Misa Viveiros, 6, liked that part. "They got to put a sticker on their favorites," she said. My mom liked the Japanese one best." Misa also enjoyed the other parts of the event. "We got to read to our parents and we got to serve them food," she said.
Other children echoed Misa. Makayla Messaris, who likes to write letters, said, "We got to read to our parents. They got to see how good we write."
Christian Cooper, 6, whose mother and baby brother came to the literary cafe, said he liked reading "I Am America," one of his writing pieces, to his family. Reading is important, he said, "because you can learn how to write very good." He also sees the value in writing. "You can use it for reading and practicing words."
Lisa Kroll, 42, is a volunteer in Yurtinus' classroom, where her daughter Kylie Kroll, 6, is a student. She also had another son who in the class an earlier year. Lisa Kroll said could see that Kylie got more artistic throughout the year. She became better able to express herself and her spelling has improved.
Kroll appreciated the opportunity to see her child's progression at the literary cafe. "You get to see how your child has grown throughout the year," she said.