Elaine Rosenfield’s second-grade class sits clustered around her squirming in anticipation of being called on.
They are talking about grasshoppers.
Thoughtfully, the students pass around a bug box filled with a sprig of lettuce and a five-legged grasshopper someone brought in to class to share.
The discussion centers on what grasshoppers eat, what an insect is and it’s even noted that this one is missing a leg.
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“But that is OK, they can get along just fine with five legs,” Rosenfield tells the students.
It is that compassion that was noted in June when Rosenfield was named the Teacher of the Year for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.
That honor was extended this week as she was celebrated as the San Luis Obispo County Teacher of the Year, making her a nominee for the statewide award.
Rosenfield, who has taught at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School for the past 10 years, has worked in the San Luis Coastal school district for 33 years.
Bold colors, charts and hand-drawn self-portraits of each student fill the walls of Rosenfield’s classroom. A reminder that “Reading is Thinking” is posted prominently on one wall.
Her passion for teaching was born more than three decades ago after working as a Spanish-speaking eligibility worker in Los Angeles County for families seeking food stamps.
There she encountered struggling families who made daily sacrifices to ensure their children got a better education than they had. It was then she decided that she wanted to become a teacher.
Each fall, Rosenfield visits the homes of every one of her students, plate of cookies in hand, during the first round of parent teacher conferences. She’s been doing that for the past 12 years.
“Elaine Rosenfield is a remarkable educator and human being,” said Superintendent Eric Prater. “She is the quintessential master teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience and an unmistakable passion for kids. She conducts home visits with all of her students and treats every child like they are her own. They all grow as learners and as citizens.”
Rosenfield has high expectations of her students, but also nurtures them.
“We like her for a lot of reasons,” said Sacha Carlson, 8. “She’s not one of those teachers that let you get away with things.”
Her students describe her as happy, thoughtful, enthusiastic and funny.
It is the students who Rosenfield credits with her success.
“The kids make me laugh — you never know what they are going to say,” she said. “I learn more from them every day than they learn from me and I delight in that.”