by Avery McNiff
Best Opportunities for Success
In a bright and orderly elementary classroom, a group of seven students settles in for class. They go about their routine seamlessly. One student passes out the subject folders, which are organized in rainbow order. Another student updates the daily schedule. Colored dots on the folders correlate to colored dots on the schedule items. The color of the student job cards matches the labels on the cursive binders, which match the students’ key rings. The abundant posters, labels, and resources in Meg Arnio’s room surpass Pinterest for teacher inspiration.
Over the past 13 years of teaching in Landmark’s Elementary program, Meg has developed a systematic classroom environment that provides students with the best opportunities for success. Meg’s consistency and use of visual aids pervades all of her teaching. This predictability and routine helps students feel safe and supported.
Meg also possesses a special ability to balance concrete and routine-oriented teaching with spontaneity and flexibility. She adapts her plans to the needs of her students, always willing to whip off a new worksheet or refine a lesson based on student response.
“I like trying to figure out a way to make things make sense,” reflects Meg. Jack, a second grade student in her class, describes his teacher’s magic: “She always explains something if you don’t understand it, and then you understand it.”
Unlike Meg’s teaching style, her path to teaching was not necessarily predictable. Meg studied kinesiology at Gordon College. After working at a physical therapy office for four years, she realized that she liked the patient care, but memorizing muscle names was not for her. A family she had nannied for a while in college recognized Meg’s potential as a future teacher and recommended she look into Landmark. Meg applied, and was teaching soon after.
Sandy Adams, a fellow teacher in the elementary program, sums up Meg’s impactful teaching, “Meg meets our students where they are, to get them where they need to be.” EMS Head of School Rob Kahn adds, “Meg’s students are often the youngest and neediest. Her magic is to support them with unparalleled kindness and respect as they learn to be students.”
In addition to teaching, Meg has expanded her responsibilities to include the role of director of the Landmark Outreach Summer Institute. In this position, Meg uses her organizational expertise and depth of knowledge to help empower teachers and students beyond her Landmark classroom.
Article originally published in The Lantern, Fall 2018/Winter 2019.