Jeanne Geers
Third Grade Parent

Ms. M excels in so many ways as a teacher that it is hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes her so excellent. She is a teacher’s teacher, the type of person you see in action that makes you want to be more like her. I will attempt to describe some of the things that stand out about Ms. M.

First of all, Ms. M is a very purposeful teacher. Our school has an International Baccalaureate PYP curriculum, and the year is divided into Units of Inquiry with prescribed topics. For each of these units, Ms. M seems to put a great deal of thought into exactly what and how she will teach, how to engage the third graders to the maximum extent, how to gauge their learning, and how to make it interesting for the students. For topics as varied as dance to light and sound, the children have been engaged and excited about learning. Everything that happens in the classroom with Ms. M has a purpose; I have never felt that she is on “auto” teaching what she’s taught before or simply handing out worksheets. With my three children, we have had approximately 15 – 20 teachers over the years, but never have we had a teacher so enthusiastic about educating as Ms. M.

Secondly, Ms. M treats the students with great respect and expects the same in return. She is very tuned in to their individual needs and learning habits, and because she responds and adjusts, the children know that she respects them and cares about them. Recently in the classroom the children and Ms. M came up with a ‘pause for learning’ – when the children are working independently or in teams, and Ms. M needs to explain something to everyone, she rings a triangle and the children give her their full attention because they know it’s time for a ‘pause for learning’. This is indicative of the learning atmosphere that Ms. M creates—it is one of inquiry, investigation, imagination, and respect. At the end of the day, as each child leaves the classroom, they shake Ms. M’s hand, look her in the eye, and say goodbye.

The last point I’ll raise is Ms. M’s communication with parents – it is unparalleled. She has developed a blog that she updates several times each week, not only with an explanation of what is being taught in class, and resources for parents and students, but also photos and videos of the kids in action. I’ve never felt so in tune with what my child is doing in school. Another example comes from the fall, when I arrived at back to school night just as it was ending. There were very few parents left, and most teachers were leaving. When Ms. M saw me, she put down everything, took off her coat, and sat down with me to go over everything she’d covered with the other parents. She took her time and answered my questions happily. That is just Ms. M.

I feel that this only touches on a few of the qualities that make Ms. M such an excellent teacher. Every family has its teachers that become part of that family’s history—Ms. M has a permanent place in our family history.

Jena Sonntag
PTA President

As the PTA organized events for the lower school, we often needed teacher chaperones or volunteers for various after-school activities.  Erin was one of the teachers we could always count on – to help D.J. the music for a Costume Party or to volunteer to work at a booth during Family Fun Day.  She has always seemed ready and full of enthusiasm to help beyond her classroom responsibilities.

As a parent volunteer, I’ve been lucky enough to see her interact with the lower grade students on a weekly basis.  She constantly shows respect to her students and to their ideas.  In return, students respond to her in a positive way.  She always has time to listen and never seems rushed but honestly engaged.  I also love that she loves to read and wants to share this with the kids.  Because I work with some of the reading groups, she has shared with me a rubric that she created with regards to developing the students’ reading comprehension skills.  It has helped me to ask better questions so that the kids can really grow from their reading experiences. She really enjoys teaching and it great to see a teacher who really enjoys coming to work everyday like Erin does.

Pia Ruotsala
Third Grade Parent

My daughter started in Ms. M’s (as we call her) class seven months ago and during this time she has gained a lot; her self-esteem has been built, she has found a purpose and a joy of learning and going to school again, and she loves her teacher Ms. M for making all this happen. Because of last year’s bad experiences in class with a poor teacher, our family can really appreciate a good teacher.

What makes Erin Maholliz a great teacher? She is a true professional and she has a magical touch with children who respect her knowledge and personality. Ms. M is a positive, caring, encouraging and versatile person who puts a lot effort to her work. She applies diverse teaching methods based on each child’s way of learning, and it seems that her ambition is to make all the children learn well, not just individually but as a group, and to make the children apply what they’ve learned in life too. Ms. M has a good eye for seeing individual learners, understanding each child’s specific needs and challenges. She can adjust her teaching and provide it in many different levels. She is clear, demanding enough, and always able to receive and learn from feedback coming from parents, children or her colleagues. Thinking of Ms. M’s professional skills and personality, I would consider her as the best teacher my children have ever had!

Kenneth Geers
Third Grade Parent

Ms M. is my daughter’s *favorite* teacher since we have lived in Tallinn, and that is saying a lot, since she has LOVED all of them!! I am really impressed with Ms M’s use of technology, such as advanced and highly-entertaining blogging, to keep parents informed – and even enlightened – regarding what takes place in her classroom. Any school would be honored and delighted to count Ms M. among its faculty.



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