Hello, Cornerstone family!
If you don’t know me, my name is Emily Bergquist, and I graduated from Cornerstone Prep in 2015. Since then I have been working on my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Kennesaw State University.
While in college I used the skills and strategies that Cornerstone taught me to be successful in my classes. I also worked on staff with a college ministry called Cru. This ministry gave me the opportunity to pursue the dream that was planted in my heart during my senior year of high school...missions! I was able to take multiple trips overseas to South America to do mission work, and during my senior year, I co-led a group of students into Ecuador for six weeks.
I spent college either being in an elementary classroom learning how to create and teach meaningful content to my students or working with my college ministry to help share the gospel with those around me. After this, I knew the Lord had put in my heart to do this here locally.
This past May I graduated (in the middle of the pandemic) and was offered a fifth-grade teaching position at Sanders Elementary in Austell, Georgia. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to make an impact on the community around me. I started the year off just me and my gecko (Hector) in the classroom. We were completely virtual, and it was hard. All the work I had put in the last four years of college suddenly felt useless. This was new and scary to every teacher. I knew that reaching my students and keeping them engaged would be SO MUCH HARDER! I was up for the challenge.
In an effort to keep the students paying attention long enough for the content to be taught, I started dancing and singing what we were learning. This is when I started to get creative. I was going over my lessons for order of operations and could only remember PEMDAS through Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
I sat in a coffee shop trying to build an engaging lesson around this phrase when it hit me. This did not represent my students. This term was outdated and not as memorable as it needed to be for my online students to get it!
I suddenly knew what needed to be done.
I took out my pencil and started writing a new way to remember the order of operations. I then took it home, found a beat track online, and grabbed a hoodie and some sunglasses. After multiple attempts, I had created a one-minute rap video to help my students understand and remember this math concept!
That next Monday I started off my lesson and showed them the video. They went crazy and started singing the song with me. It was incredible to see the students respond to the content and use it in their work time. I often heard them throughout the week singing the song to themselves as they worked through problems.
Since then I have made videos for different topics that they are learning each week, and they are always SO excited to see Professor PEMDAS make an appearance in class! This video also caught wind on social media and Fox News reached out to do a piece on my video. It has been a neat experience to see so many other teachers reach out to use this video in their own classrooms to help reinforce the topic with their students!
I knew going into this first year of teaching that it was going to take a lot of creativity and hard work to help my students be successful. Cornerstone set the foundation for my creativity, drive, and out-of-the-box thinking that I implement in the classroom every day. The amazing teachers I had at Cornerstone helped me become who I am today. They are still present in my life, encouraging me and cheering me on as I start this new career and tackle my first year of teaching!
Click here to watch the TikTok video.