Making Kids Feel Smart, Important & Perfectly Imperfect

Making Kids Feel Smart, Important & Perfectly Imperfect

by Shara Bumgarner, Head of School

Switch Day at TJS is when all newly accepted students come to the School to test out their class placements for the following school year. Essentially, our schedules are turned upside down for the day!

We have so many nervous kiddos who don't know what to expect about their new school or their new teachers. You might think that sounds stressful, but here are just a few inspiring scenes I witnessed while walking around our campus today.

In just a few minutes today, I saw teachers:

  • acknowledging that anxiety was common for lots of kids.
  • assessing skills without kids feeling like they were being assessed.
  • who didn't bat an eyelash when a child read "yellow" for the word "RED".
  • listing multiple ways to complete work based on what worked best for that student.
  • modeling their own problem solving strategies, both academically and socially.
  • making it okay to use a calculator, a multiplication chart, a laptop and WordQ software.
  • allowing kids to stand, to draw while listening and to spell imperfectly.

And I saw fun and laughter. Lots of it.

Teachers who talked to kids like they genuinely liked them. Teachers who shared information about their families, their learning styles, their hobbies and their favorite music. Teachers who treated kids like people who were worthy of their attention and with whom they looked forward to spending next year.

I'm so grateful to our wonderful faculty for making kids feel smart and important and perfectly imperfect.


Shara Bumgarner is pictured from the shoulders up, smiling and wearing a blue top and silver necklace

About the Author

Shara Bumgarner co-founded The Joy School in 1997 and has been our Head of School since 2002. Shara's inspiration for starting The Joy School stemmed from witnessing bright students with learning differences and disabilities slip through the cracks in public school because of a lack of understanding of such students. Shara is committed to providing the most optimal, joyful environment for students and teachers with an emphasis on embracing individual differences. Starting The Joy School changed her life as an educator, and she hopes to have that same impact on each student, parent and teacher at the School. Outside of school, Shara focuses on her family, which includes her supportive husband and three daughters.

Degree Held
Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Specializing in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from University of Houston

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