Name: Kathy Roosma
Born: Los Angeles, California
Education: San Gabriel Academy, 1971
Walla Walla College, 1975
Major: Business Education
School: Orcas Christian School
Teaches: Primary Room, ages 6–9
Kathy Roosma and her husband, Tom, are on the teaching staff at the Orcas Christian School (OCS) on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington's Puget Sound. The six-year-old OCS, which was built on a campus designed to look like a New England village, is an Adventist school with a special mission, since about 93 percent of the students don't come from Adventist families.
“A lot of the kids here aren’t even Christians,” Kathy relates. “I was reading an Old Testament story about Abraham, and one of my first-graders said, ‘That’s not true.’ I said, ‘Yes it is; it is in the Bible.’ He said, ‘That is not true. It is just made up.’ So we looked it up and he was amazed.”
Since many of the students have not heard the stories of Jesus, the teachers start with Jesus first. “We are not a school trying to proselytize,” Tom says. “We are a school trying to introduce people to Jesus, and that is what we see as our mission.”
Kathy and Tom moved to Orcas Island for the 1999 school year. Kathy teaches the youngest students, ages 6 through 9, while Tom teaches the 10- and 11-year-olds. Both use the Integrated Thematic Instruction (ITI ) method and cooperate on the different units.
Kathy’s Primary Room has an atmosphere of a family home with table lamps, plants and soft classical music. Instead of using desks, children work together at several round tables.
“The kids are so young at this age, and they develop their skills at different speeds,” she explains. “I try to provide lots of different activities and experiences, because it clicks at different times and on different days for each kid."
Except for math, Kathy teaches the same thing to all the students. “If I am teaching how to put a suffix on the end of a word, I will do it for the whole group. Some of the younger kids don’t have a clue what I am talking about, but some of them are right there with me. I just have the attitude that this is what we are learning today. If the younger kids don’t understand it now, they will have other times to get it.”
The week after spring break, they started a unit on light and color. Worship involved a lesson on the theme, as did lessons in reading, writing, spelling, science and math. “They love what they are learning, they are engaged in what they are doing, and they stay connected and involved,” Kathy says.
Roger Worley, OCS high school team leader, says that Kathy is able to effectively convey what each teacher feels in her heart—"I love my kids." She wants them to know that Jesus loves them, that He’s forgiven them, and, if they have had a bad day or a bad life, He couldn’t love them more or less. As Roger explains, Kathy "is so clear in her vision for her students that they pick it up and sense it.”