Learning about the United States' westward expansion, dividing decimals and fractions, and writing poetry are a large part of the Bernards Township fifth grade curriculum and the familiar routine of elementary school.
However, fifth-grade classes in Bernards elementary schools are supposed to do more than just teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic. The curriculum must start to guide students as they transition from elementary to middle school—a daunting jump for these young students.
Barbara House-Quigley, Liberty Corner Elementary School’s 2011 Teacher of the Year, said works hard every year to make sure her students have the right tools to reach their goals the following year.
“I will work very hard to ensure that they not only learn the fifth grade curriculum, but also learn about good character traits and responsibilities,” House-Quigley said recently. “They will learn that ‘I can’t’ is not a part of our classroom vocabulary. Negative thinking is a bad habit that blocks achievement in all areas. I will teach them the tools that will transform ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ and ‘I want to.’”
House-Quigley started teaching 13 years ago at Liberty Corner and has not turned back since, fueled by a shared passion of learning with her students and the energy she feels in the classroom.
“Children have so much enthusiasm and vigor. To them, the world is a thrilling place full of wonders just waiting to be discovered. I wanted to teach because I wanted to be able to enlighten young minds about our world,” House-Quigley explained.
House-Quigley said, “Education is power, and it is essential that children come to appreciate that knowledge is continuously gained by coming up with questions, and then seeking out the answers.”
Teaching at Liberty Corner for the entirety of her career as an educator, House-Quigley said she appreciates the supportive Basking Ridge community, which she describes as full of great co-workers, parents, and students.
“In Basking Ridge, I have the opportunity to work with parents who value education and the role I play in their children’s lives,” House-Quigley said.
Teacher also values character education
House-Quigley said she strives to foster positive attitudes and exemplary character in her students. She recognizes how the resources the district provides help her in her mission — especially since Liberty Corner School recently was recognized as a 2011 New Jersey School of Character by the NJ Alliance for Social, Emotional and Character Development, the third time the school has received this award.
“I think the most important thing a student will learn in elementary school is the value of working cooperatively with each other,” House-Quigley said. “Our character education program helps foster good decision making skills when dealing with other people. It is so important that children learn at a young age that they need to treat each other with respect and compassion.”
With the anticipated transition to middle school being a top priority for fifth graders, House-Quigley also praises to the middle school peer leadership program. As part of the program, a group of middle school students come to fifth grade classrooms to talk about the different community structure at the William Annin Middle School — including that school's team system, and running around to different classes.
“I think fifth grade students are most concerned with the unknown. I talk to my students throughout the year about what they should expect at the middle school,” House-Quigley said.
Most importantly, House-Quigley urges students to have a “keep on swimming” attitude towards the future, regardless of how unfamiliar, and be eager and open to what lies in the future.
House-Quigley exclaims, “My advice to all new students is to start with a good attitude. Look forward to having another school year where new adventures and opportunities are waiting for you!”