Chris McVaugh is an accomplished teacher, artist, writer and potter, with an interest in several other disciplines.
In whichever discipline Chris is involved at a given time, she experiences a deep joy in the learning process, in gaining new knowledge and understanding, and where that new knowledge and understanding will lead her in her quest to learn more, to understand better.
"I teach because I love to learn and to play school," Chris says.
When she was 10 years old, she held a summer school for friends her age, charging one cent a day for each student. She provided a tree trimming class. They listened to the opera "Carmen" — and "carefully studied it," Chris said. She taught what she knew about math. Her mother made cookies for the students every day. There were three to five students each day, depending on what else was going on in her friends' days that summer.
Chris began teaching professionally in 1963 in Grand Blanc, Michigan, near Flint. She taught in the public schools, first in high school and then in elementary schools for a long time.
When she was teaching fifth grade in Grand Blanc, her students were having trouble learning from the textbook. She contacted MacMillan Publishing Company in New York asking if they had something like a workbook to accompany the textbook that would make it easier for the students to learn. MacMillan representatives said they did not, "But why don't you put together a workbook?" Chris did and MacMillan published it.
Chris and her husband, the late Frank Raby, came to Colorado in the late 1980s, settling in Woodland Park. She substituted for teachers quite a bit in Woodland Park.
They later moved to Paonia, and she substitute taught in Paonia. She also wrote articles and a couple of books, which to date she hasn't submitted to publishers.
Her husband died in 1992. For a couple of years Chris worked with Home Health Care.
Some parents on Redlands Mesa established The Learning Center (TLC) to provide home schooling for their children. The parents employed two teachers, one of whom was Chris. She taught at TLC for several years.
Chris McVaugh currently teaches through the Vision Home and Community Program. She has taught in the Vision program since it began. Primarily she teaches history, and has taught geography, English and pottery.
Two of her students — Kassydy Braddy and C.J. Braddy — were recently in class at McVaugh's home/classroom.
Kassydy explained that the Vision Home and Community Program is a public school which incorporates home school and public school resources. She feels she learns more in McVaugh's classes than she would in a regular high school class. She has taken McVaugh's classes for four years. Under the Vision program she can cross over to take classes in any high school if she chooses.
Kassydy has been in the Vision program since kindergarten. She is a high school junior and a member of the National Honor Society. She has taken college classes in entomology through the Vision program, taught by a teacher certified to teach at the college level. Kassydy's career goal is to be a veterinarian.
C.J. joined the Vision program when he was in the second grade and has taken classes from McVaugh for six years. C.J. is a high school freshman. His favorite classes are history, and he aspires to be a historian.
C.J. is involved in sports and takes gymnastics at Austin. He says that through the Vision program he can join sports activities at any public high school and try out for that school's athletic teams.
McVaugh uses the customary teaching tools of books on the subject being studied, films and documentaries and assigning reports on the subject being studied. She, too, writes a report when the students write theirs. All share their reports in class.
Last semester McVaugh's students studied Colonial America, the colonies of New Spain, New France and New England, starting with 1492. They are currently studying the French and Indian War and next semester will study the Colonial Rebellion.
Other historical periods McVaugh has taught are medieval history, ancient Greece, 1700s in America and 1800s in America.
For review materials she and her students create board games and card games. For review of Colonial America they created a board game with a large map showing the colonies, made different characters out of clay for their individual playing pieces, and cards with questions. In the Monopoly™ approach, and using play money, they take a card that contains a question of who, what, when, where or why about that period of history. If they answer the question correctly, they earn play money.
For the historic medieval period McVaugh and the students created a card game similar to Fish, Concentrate or Rummy, posting questions about clothing, castles, weapons, the three estates of nobles, religious and serfs, and how that subject related to the medieval period.
Students and McVaugh write plays together about the period. The girls make costumes and the boys make props, along with help from McVaugh, and they perform the plays in McVaugh's home/classroom, on her patio and at Confluence Park. They filmed some plays and student Katy Nelson did the editing.
They also reenact historical events, such as taking McVaugh's canoe to Confluence Lake and rowing out to a pretend ship to reenact the Boston Tea Party.
They make dioramas of the period for the classroom.
One of their most challenging acts of bringing history into the classroom occurred when students created their own La Tapisserie de Bayeux, a band of linen 76 yards long and 19 1/2 inches wide depicting historic events such as the defeat of Harold II of England by William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, establishing the Normans as rulers of England.
The original 900-year-old tapestry contains 58 scenes, embroidered in worsteds of eight colors. It is protected by glass and special lighting in the Centre Guillaume le Conquerant in Bayeux, France.
McVaugh copied panels from the Internet, the students chose events to reproduce, drawing them on cloth with colored pens, and adding a few personal edits.
McVaugh says, "The more you learn about something, the more one little fact or event adds on to what you have known and leads to greater knowledge. It stimulates interest for further learning.
"I enjoy seeing the young people emerge as distinctive individuals, growing toward adulthood, the fun they have learning. One young student has published a poem. I see former students in Walmart with their children. I really enjoy gifted kids and I love it when they correct me. It's fun."blog comments powered by Disqus