Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Q & A with Denise Nott, Winner of Our Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway

 Last month, we held a giveaway contest where one lucky classroom received ninety books written by Joy Cowley, creator of Mrs. Wishy-Washy. The books included the entire Joy Cowley Collection and Joy Cowley Early Birds. They also received three audiobook CDs and a set of Mrs. Wishy-Washy finger puppets. The winning teacher's name is Denise Nott, of Marion Cook School in Lagrange, Maine. We asked her some questions about the contest, her students, and her feelings about teaching in general. In today's post, you can read her answers and see the students enjoying their prizes!

Did you know that someone nominated you to our Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway?

Yes, our guidance counselor, BJ Bowden. She nominates the teachers in both of her schools for many different things. She is the best! 

What do your students love about Mrs. Wishy-Washy?

They love the animals! They also love the continuation of characters from book to book. They look for the animals in each book.

We heard that the class was just beside themselves when they learned they won. How did your students react?

It was amazing! I told the class that Ms. BJ had nominated me for this contest. I told them about the prizes, and of course they were excited! I told them that Joy Cowley herself had made a video to announce the winner. I acted like I had no idea that I won. I have an ENO board in my classroom so the video was nice and large. It started to play, and when the students heard Ms. Cowley say my name and the school and town name, their mouths literally dropped open! They looked at the video, then looked at me, then back to the video! It was amazing. It is a moment I will remember forever. Also, the two other teachers showed their classes as well so I was congratulated all day.

Please tell us a little more about the path that led you to teach. Were there any great "light bulb moments" that you will always remember? What do you absolutely love about being a teacher?

I had wanted to be a teacher since I was in the 4th grade. Once I graduated high school, I attended community college, but I did not give it my all. I had just moved out and was living with my future husband and planning my wedding and married life. I had to work to pay bills, so I ended up leaving college. When I turned 29, I decided that if I ever wanted to be a teacher, I had better get the ball rolling! I enrolled in Eastern Maine Community College and received my associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2002. I then enrolled at the University of Maine and received my Bachelors Degree in 2006. I started teaching in 2007.

The thing I love the best about teaching is seeing how far the children come over the course of a year. I teach K/1 so I actually get to see the progress over two years! It is amazing to see these young 5-year-olds walk in on day one scared and unsure of themselves and then two years later, they leave me a completely confident child ready to take on second grade! I guess I love seeing the independence and self-reliance they gain.

Do you do anything in summer to prepare for the next school year, and if so, how close to the new school year do your preparations ramp up?

This year will be different for me, since our school is restructuring, and I will be moving to a new school. I will be teaching a straight first grade. I am very excited to have one grade level! The biggest thing I am planning to do, besides set up an entirely new classroom, is to plan lessons and map out my curriculum aligned to the Common Core. I think mapping out what I will teach for the whole year will be a big help. I will work in my room the first two weeks of August, but I will work on the mapping for the whole summer.

To read more about the books included in the giveaway and see what had the students so excited, you can visit our website or click on the images below to read key features of both of the book series by Joy Cowley!

-Tara Rodriquez