By Tara Fort
For Abia Judd Kindergarten Teacher Rachel Chunglo, the importance of earning a child’s trust is the key ingredient to developing a solid relationship with her students. She states, “In my job, I value relationships above everything else. I cannot teach a child who doesn’t trust me. It’s my job to make them feel loved and safe in my classroom–before I can teach them anything.” Chunglo, who has lived in Prescott for eight years and has been at Abia Judd for five years has always taught kindergarten, first at Miller Valley, and then at Abia Judd when Miller Valley closed a few years ago. “I have always taught Kindergarten and I really have not wanted to teach any other grade!”
Keeping relationships at the forefront has allowed Chunglo to stay in touch with many of her students over the years, and she continues to find excitement on a daily basis. “I love the ‘ah-ha’ milestones when you can see the exact moment a child truly understands. Especially in Kindergarten, the kids are so excited when they figure out new things.” With positive moments also come challenges, as Chunglo recalls a stand out moment with a student who had a tendency to act out. Over time Chunglo worked to earn that student’s trust, and the Kindergartner finally felt secure in the classroom. She recalls that the student’s “behavior change was dramatic,” and adds that, “..she became a joyful kid and started to build friendships; she was a great student and grew academically.” Chunglo draws on that feeling and says, “I’ve used that experience to direct me in my relationships with all my students.”
With four daughters of her own, Chunglo stays busy with keeping them involved in their own activities. She also works at the YMCA in the gymnastics department and coaches AYSO soccer. With an active professional and personal life, she remains dedicated to Prescott Unified School District and its mission to provide for every child, every day. Although COVID19 presented challenges within the District, Chunglo states, “During that time, I was able to reflect on what is essential to my teaching and have been able to be really flexible with the rest. I’ve also had time to really organize and plan lessons that will carry into the following years as well.” Chunglo also credits her team, and says, “I have volunteers that I continually rely on each year to help keep my classroom going,” Chunglo recently became the first teacher in PUSD to earn a National Board Certification—a certification that only an average of 3% of teachers nationwide hold—and was one of Yavapai County’s recognized 2020 Co-Teachers of the Year. Superintendent Joe Howard says, “It has been amazing to watch Rachel grow as a professional educator over the years. I can’t think of growth or leadership opportunity that she hasn’t been in the front of the line for. She is a voracious lifelong learner, inspiring PUSD children and adults alike.”
For more information about Rachel Chunglo and Prescott Unified School District, visit www.prescottschools.com.