Denise Wass Selected as National Teacher of the Month for March 2024

Denise Wass, a Kindergarten Teacher of Kelloggsville Public Schools (MI), has been named the Open Up Resources Teacher of the Month for March 2024. Wass is being recognized for her outstanding work in her classroom and ongoing support of teachers across the country as a member of the Open Up Resources National Professional Learning Community.

Wass’s work with Bookworms K–5 Reading and Writing makes her one of the most innovative teachers in the country. The Bookworms K–5 Reading and Writing curriculum inspires a new way of teaching language arts by engaging students through compelling, real-world content to build equitable and inclusive learning opportunities.

Suzanne Schmier, a colleague at West Kelloggsville Elementary School, nominated Wass for her fearless implementation of Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing. Schmier shared, “Denise has embraced the Bookworms curriculum and implements it beautifully in her classroom. Her students are engaged and excited to learn. Parents are excited because they see their children beginning to read.”

In her nomination, Schmier described the ways that Wass has made the curriculum her own in her classroom. She explained, “Denise and her amazing colleague have come up with ‘craftivities’ to go along with the books they are reading in Bookworms. They are displayed in the hallways and the students love to tell you about these characters and topics.”

Wass shared that she really appreciates the progression of the lessons in repetitive 5-day sequences. Her students have adapted quickly to the series of lessons being similar for each set of books. Wass also shared a success story with us about the benefits for children to having adopted the curriculum in their school. “I was outside for recess duty, standing near the sandbox. Two students from my class were talking about the book character, Rosie, from Rosie's Walk. Another student in a different class said, ‘Wait, you know Rosie's Walk, too?’ Then they started talking all about that book and went on to compare other books that each of the two classrooms read. The kids were so excited that the different classrooms knew the same stories. It brought out so much ‘book talk’ on the playground – something I have never seen in my 23 years of teaching!” 

And she offered some advice for those considering adopting Bookworms: “Do it! Bookworms is very well laid out and has increased my student participation in the shared choral reading, as well as building vocabulary knowledge. Teaching the basic concepts in a set way allowed more of my students to be able to independently feel successful reading decodable books at the end of the kindergarten year, compared to years past with doing guided reading group instruction.”

About Open Up Resources:

Open Up Resources is a non-profit publisher in pursuit of delivering equitable learning experiences for all students. By providing educators best in class, research-based PreK-12 curricula and professional learning, educators can better support every student’s academic success and create in-class experiences that celebrate, honor, and empower all students with a keen focus on historically excluded student populations.

To learn more about Open Up Resources' mission and work, 
click here.