Christine Mack’s classroom is filled with music, hands-on centers, projects and most importantly, love and compassion.

Mack is back in the classroom after taking time away to have children. The mom of four teaches kindergarten at Simpsonville Elementary School.

“I wanted to be a teacher since I was probably 4 years old,” she said. “I am the oldest of five. I remember always having a heart for kids and wanting to help them. It’s been my dream job my entire life and it still is. I love every single day, even the hard days.”

Beyond the focus on academics, Mack sets the tone for her students’ education by teaching them to love and respect their classmates, despite any differences.

“The number one most important thing to me is that every child feels loved when they walk in my classroom – that they feel safe and loved not only by me but by their peers. I try to teach compassion and empathy right away. I try to foster that at the beginning, and by the middle of the year, they are doing that on their own.”

Mack’s students are very active in the classroom.

“That minimizes behavior problems when they can move around and talk positively,” she said. “They definitely need that in kindergarten. We really focus on being positive in our classroom. I think kindness makes the world go around. I want them to make others smile. I try to show them that by example, but if someone does that in my classroom, I make a huge deal out of it.”

Students earn pom-poms in a bucket for positive behavior. As the school years goes along, Mack continues the positive reinforcement but gradually reduces the tangible reward.

“I stop giving as many pom-poms and let them feel it in their heart,” she said.

Despite the challenges of shaping young minds and teaching children who are so new to school, Mack is living the life she hoped for even as a child. Her dream career has come true.

“I could cry every time I think about how much I love my job,” she said. “It’s the greatest gift to be with 24 children who think you just hung the moon. In no other job do you have that.”

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