A teacher in the making

Brian Chang, News Editor

Diamond Bar High School senior Kristen Van de Houten spends two days out of the week returning to her roots in order to help the next generation of students grow.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, Van de Houten spends an hour after school at Evergreen Elementary School, helping kindergarten students with arts and crafts and ensures they are on task. She works with her former kindergarten teacher Mona Warren, who invited her to volunteer at Evergreen when Kristen visited her at the beginning of the school year.

“My mom found my old kindergarten scrapbook, and we were showing it to her,” Van de Houten said. “I mentioned how I wanted to be a teacher…and she asked if I wanted to volunteer there.”

Working with kindergarten students, Van de Houten guides kids during tasks.

While she enjoys helping the students with their projects, she said it can be occasionally troublesome getting them to understand what they are doing. For example, during a recent activity when students needed to work with watercolors, some students were using too much paint even after Van de Houten warned them not to.

“Sometimes they’re not really great at understanding exactly what you’re telling them and that can make almost anything difficult. I just have to keep telling them, or try to explain it in a different way.”

In the classroom, Van de Houten hopes to influence the children in a positive way by making the learning process more fun.

“When there’s just one teacher in the class and that’s the only person they’re talking to all day, then when there are other people,  it makes things more dynamic, more interesting,” she said.

Van de Houten said she wanted to be a teacher ever since she was young. She is using the opportunity to broaden her horizons and determine if she wants to teach young children in the future.

“It’s definitely shown me what it’s like to be a kindergarten teacher and how the kids are in school,” she said. “This is their first year in an actual school, and they’re learning more constantly. It’s opening my ideas to what age range I want to teach.”

In the past, Van de Houten has also volunteered through other programs to gain experience working with children. She babysat toddlers at the church her parents attended on Sundays for a couple of years, and the summer after her freshman year, she worked in the Tiny Tots program at the Heritage Park & Community Center.

“I love working with kids. It’s something I’ve always liked doing,” Van de Houten said. “You’re dealing with these young kids, who haven’t had much in life yet. You’re influencing them a lot, and that’s such an important job. You’re giving them the foundation for the rest of their education. It’s a lot of responsibility.”