Ms. Gruich
F I R S T   G R A D E
T H E    T E A C H E R

Ms. Jan Gruich

This is my third year to teach at St. Al’s and I look forward to helping my students learn many things: to love God, love learning, love coming to school every day, and ultimately be prepared for second grade at the end of the year! One of my favorite things about working at St. Alphonsus School is getting to spend each day praying with the class and sharing my love of reading with them. Seeing their excitement grow as they learn new words and put it all together is a highlight of my teaching experience. My wonderful husband of 29 years and I have three daughters, two of which also chose to be educators! I love spending time with my family, my students, being a part of the St. Al’s family, and God.
For weekly reminders and important dates.

Our Classroom Team

Ms. Jan Gruich
Ms. Bev Forehand

Our “Special(s)” Team

Ms. Gena Gatschet
PE Teacher
Ms. Kathy Mangin
Music Teacher
Ms. Mary Rogers
Ms. Lauren Ross
Spanish Teacher
C L A S S R O O M   A C T I V I T I E S

A Day Devoted to “Fun Math”

Have you ever had an entire day devoted to math and deemed it “fun”??? Ms. Gruich’s first graders did! On the 100th day of school, Ms. Gruich threw lesson plans out the window and created a day challenging her students through various 100-based STEM activities. Each child was given a journal and teammates to document and solve problems with. They built layered cakes, strong enough to hold 100 candles. They used building blocks to create tall towers. Students tapped into their creative side to design as many different shaped glasses as they could. (You know those 100 year-old grandparents need help with their glasses!) Like so many other classes at St. Alphonsus on the 100th day, the cup stacking station was a huge hit. And no celebration is complete without a party hat station and cookie station where students built festive creations.
At each station, the group worked together to come up with a plan, document their plan. Groups plans varied and it some worked, others didn’t. It was all 100% fun wrapped in a formative review of their science hypothesis lesson, handwriting practice, team building, time management, cooperative learning, math review, and engineering fun. Here’s to a great 100 days! #calledtobeaSAINT #STEM

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Mass 1.17.20 – Big and Small Things

On Fridays, all of St. Alphonsus Catholic School students attend mass and worship together. Faith formation is an important part of their St. Al’s education.

This morning, our elementary students shared their understanding of today’s mass message.
– “By the way, we go to Mass to pray and praise God.” (Amen.)
– “Today Father told us about St. Anthony Abbott and he had 600 followers… He gave all his stuff away; his clothes, his house, EVERYTHING!… That was hard to do because those are hard choices…. He gave it all away to help the poor.”

Taking it a step further, these students knew that it doesn’t always have to be “big” things that we do as followers of Christ. They worked as groups and came up with ideas of “small” things they could do to help the poor, like St. Anthony Abbott. They decided to:
– raise money
– share food (“It’s sad when people have to eat out of the trash sometimes.”)
– build a house
– give away clothes that are too small and cant fit anymore
– donate old toys that aren’t played with anymore
– give money to help or jobs to do

#massmessage #makemassmeaningful #fromourstudents #calledtobeaSAINT

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Christmas Pageant – 12.17.19

Every year, first through sixth grade students bring the Christmas story alive in the annual Christmas Pageant. They tell the story of Jesus’ birth and spread the joy of the season through scripture, songs, and prayer. At its core, it is a perfect example of who we are and what matters most at St. Alphonsus Catholic School; hope and love. Our students practiced their songs (in English and Spansih no less) and rehearsed their lines leading up to this special night. We are so proud of them. We hope this evening meant as much to our St. Al’s family as it did to us.
We were excited to stream the performance live on or Facebook page for the very first time! To view video from that night, please visit us on Facebook (St. Alphonsus Catholic School). “Like Us” to see all the fun we have during the year.

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Divide and Conquer

How do you keep a class of eager 1st graders engaged and interested, while giving individual attention to each one?
Ms. Gruich and Ms. Forehand have developed a rotating “centers” system that allows children to have opportunities to work in varying groups accomplishing required tasks. The stations change at allotted intervals to keep students appropriately on task and keep interest levels high. The children even rotate themselves between stations so that they learn social skills and challenge each other too. The teachers are given the chance to work with children individually at stations to enhance the learning experience, or to recognize when a student needs extra attention without drawing the attention of their peers.
It is a busy classroom, with a lot of fun, learning, and growing going on!

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Mass 11.01.19 – To Be Holy

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are the gentle…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are those who hunger…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart…
Blessed are the peacemakers…
Blessed are the persecuted…
The day’s readings give hope that there is a place for all in the kingdom of Heaven. But how do we know if we are a peacemaker? On our hard days, are we merciful towards others? Do we see others in need and treat them with the gentle kindness Jesus taught us?
All Saints Day shows us that holiness is possible. It is possible to be all of those things and reach Heaven. When Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, he shared his holiness with each of us. Loving him and following Him is our path to Heaven and sainthood. God has never asked us to be perfect…. He asks us to follow him. #IwillfollowHim #massmessage #calledtobeaSAINT

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Trunk or Treat Recap

Trunk or Treat may have looked a little bit different this year – switching dates and locations due to weather – but the spirit and fun remained the same. St. Al’s loves being a part of your family’s life and welcomes the opportunity to be a place that families come to for faith, education, and FUN! This year, students traversed the hallways for candy instead of curriculum. Seeing everyone’s creativity in their costumes is a highlight of ours every year but the best part of Trunk or Treat is the wonderful community that is apparent in the life (and noise) that filled the Cafeteria. Thank you for letting us be a part of your family! #calledtobeaSAINT

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When Saints Walk the Halls

On Friday, October 25th, saints walked the halls of St. Alphonsus Catholic School. The annual Saint Walk by one of our Upper Elementary classes is the culmination of a multi-disciplinary project. The student select a saint they relate to in Religion class, discover more about their life and culture during Social Studies, and use time in English to create an essay they share with other students in the school.

To say that we are proud of their efforts and creativity would be an understatement. Watching them share their faith with other St. Al’s students is what St. Alphonsus Catholic School is all about. #calledtobeaSAINT #livingsaints

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Mass 10.18.19 – Put It Out There

What does it mean to be a disciple? What does it mean to show the love of Jesus? Where do we even start? Those big questions were a part of Deacon Allen’s mass message this morning. Here are a few of Deacon’s talking points to continue the conversation in your home: – A disciple is a person that spreads God’s word and shares the love of Jesus. – We are all disciples. – We are called to be models to others. It’s a big responsibility but is something that every Christian can do. – A disciple doesn’t have to travel to far away lands like the people in the Bible did to show God’s love. We can do it in our classrooms by being kind to our classmates, be a good friend on the playground, and be a help to our teachers.

Put it out there wherever you go. Show God’s love. It’s not hard. #showinglove #massmessage #calledtobeaSAINT

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Lights! Camera! VERBS!

Our Elementary students are full of movement and Ms. Gruich does an amazing job of translating those “things you do with your body” into teaching moments about verbs. Students move through active listening about the topic to individual examples to reinforce it. Group discussion that includes active wiggles and hand raising is encouraged. Once she feels the group has a firm handle on the topic, the real work(books) begin. Our avid readers tackle passages and identify the action, the noun – both common and proper.
Student learning does not end at the classroom door. During Library time, Ms. Mary extends the lesson to include organizing nouns and verbs by type and alphabetically. It is a slight change of pace that keeps the activity fresh but keeps the classroom lesson going. The library books they take home each week often include conversations with mom and dad about the “person, place, or thing” a sentence may be about or “describing words” they can identify. It’s a great team of teachers, students, and parents we have at St. Al’s!

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Mass 10.09.19 – Prayer

Today’s mass readings talked about prayer. Specifically, they introduced the Lord’s Prayer and the idea that we are a Christian family under “our father.” Our elementary students have an active prayer life and shared their thoughts on prayer with us. .

Why do we pray? “I pray because I love God. I pray to say thank you. I pray to ask for help. I pray because that’s what God asks us to do.” . What do you pray for? “For my school. For my family. To keep everyone I love safe. For people to be kind to each other. For the people I love to have a nice life. For my church community. For my Uncle Charlie. For my mom and her patients. For my pet fish, Dizzy. To help the poor. For my siblings. To protect my house. For people to be happy.”

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