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Stephanie Tirado brings art and mental health to the forefront of her classroom

Stephanie Tirado brings art and mental health to the forefront of her classroom

Stephanie Tirado is a prekindergarten teacher at Cecil H. Parker School and has been with the district for five years. She builds her classroom on the importance of relationships and stresses the importance of getting to know her students and their families. She takes an interest in what her students like.  

Student in Ms. Tirados's pre-k class focused wearing a maroon shirt and her hair done in space buns.

“I talk to my students like I would talk to adults,” said Ms. Tirado. “I always say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ to them.”  
 
“Ms. Tirado is spectacular,” said Dr. Gayle White-Wallace, director of Pre-K, Gifted & Talented and Special Projects. “She really shows her love of art and shares it with her students. Her students create so much in the classroom.” 
 
Every few weeks, Ms. Tirado hand draws the bulletin board outside of her classroom that focuses on the theme her students will be learning about.   

Ms. Tirado standing in front of her hand drawn bulletin board.


Ms. Tirado also acknowledges the importance of teaching and learning about mental health.  
 
“We all feel different things,” Ms. Tirado says to her students. “It is okay to feel different things.”  
 
When the students need a break, she has a cozy corner set up for students to take a moment and relax. 
 
“Kids have bad days too,” said Ms. Tirado. “When you validate these children’s emotions it leads to a better relationship and better behavior in the classroom.”  
 
Tirado even made a fun activity like carving a pumpkin into an entire lesson on feelings and emotions. 
 
The lesson began with the students dancing and moving their bodies to a song about emotions and feelings. Students had the freedom to move any which way they wanted. Students then sat in crisscross apple sauce on the rug and multiple pictures of emotions were shown on the board.  
 

Student and Ms. Tirado standing up at board.

After discussing all the different emotions, students voted on an emotion to give their pumpkins. One at a time, students voted on whether they wanted the pumpkin sad, happy, scared, or angry.  
 
Once the votes were complete, everyone could see that happy was by far the winner. They all sat in a circle and carved out a pumpkin with a happy face.  
 
During the lesson, some students were having a tough time with their emotions. Ms. Tirado allowed the students to have time to themselves and move at their own pace to participate in the activity.  
 
Fellow classmates even checked on their friends to make sure they were okay, and Ms. Tirado recognized that with praise.  
 
“We celebrate all acts of kindness and always make a big deal out of it,” said Ms. Tirado.  
 
“The climate and the culture in Ms. Tirado’s class are very soothing to students and structured,” said Dr. White-Wallace.  
 
Tirado is also a part of multiple committees and programs. She is part of the Family and Community Engagement Committee, Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions Program (PBIS), the Spelling Bee Committee and is a tech link.  

Students dancing in Ms. Tirado's pre-k class.
Dr. Pearce and Dr. BC

Students, teachers, and community members from countries around the world filled the cafeteria for Mount Vernon High School’s No Place for Hate - A Walk Around the Globe on Friday, January 20, 2023. The room was lined with flags from around the world, and tables were set up with displays detailing the cultures of each country. There was an assortment of food from several countries as well.  

Students in Pre-K playing games at House of Sports

Universal Prekindergarten students in the Mount Vernon City School District are currently learning about health and nutrition. To support the learning in this unit, pre-K students from across the district took a trip to House of Sports.

Kids petting rabbit

Traphagen scholars took an in-house field trip that featured a tortoise, ferret, and albino rabbit. Students were allowed to touch all the animals and see them up close. Nick Coon, a naturalist educator at Greenburgh Nature Center, brought his scaly and furry friends to Traphagen School on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, for the field trip.

Pre-K students arriving to school

A month after the beginning of the Mount Vernon City School District's universal pre-kindergarten program for 3-year-olds (UPK-3), parents are seeing development in their children's communication and reading skills. Scholars began their pre-K journey at WestCOP Bethel Early Childhood Center, Friendship for Tots, and Our Lady of Victory School.   

Firefighter gathers pre-k students for a picture.

Pre-kindergarten students toured Mount Vernon to see all the community helpers throughout the month of December. The “hop on, hop off” bus tour visited the fire and police departments, grocery store, library, post office, Board of Education office, City Hall and more.