Maus prepares Wildcats for lessons ahead

Progress teacher Tami Maus.jpg
Tami Maus, fifth grade teacher at Gussner Elementary School in Jamestown, likes to get to know her students on a personal level which later helps in the classroom. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Tami Maus knows the value of relationships and experience - especially in a fifth grade classroom.

“I like to get to know my students on a personal level,” said Maus, a teacher at Gussner Elementary School. “When the weekends come I usually have two or three different activities that I try to get to like basketball, swimming, gymnastics or piano performances so I can reach those students on a personal level.”

Maus was born into the teaching profession, as both of her parents and a number of her siblings were educators. Prior to college, Maus said she had little desire to become a teacher. Once a student at Valley City State University, Maus said she felt like teaching was the profession she was to pursue. Maus earned an elementary education and a physical education degree from VCSU and has been in the classroom for the past 13 years.

“She’s just very well-rounded,” said Luke Anderson, Gussner Elementary principal. “She is very willing to do whatever is needed without question and puts students’ needs first at all times.”

Maus entered the Jamestown Public School District four years ago as a fifth grade teacher and has strived to build a meaningful connection with each one of her students.


“Students really learn from someone they like,” Maus said. “If I can get that personal relationship with them the more likely they are to do those things in the classroom that I need them to do.”

While the lessons in the classroom are necessary for the crew of fifth grade students, Maus’ class is getting exposure to life beyond the science or reading tests.

“When I was a fifth grader I went to a nursing home with my class and I really wanted to implement that,” Maus said. “A couple of years ago we reached out to Eventide (Jamestown) and they let us come once a month.”

Eventide Jamestown is a non-profit senior assisted living facility. The time students have spent with the older generations there has proved fruitful, Maus said.

“We do different activities with the residents like art projects,” she said.”We interview them, just to kind of learn the basics of having a conversation with an adult. That has been really helpful and I love doing that activity with them.”

Back in the classroom, Maus recently began implementing more hands-on activities to promote problem solving and engagement with the school as a whole. The fifth grade leader headed up a Project Based Learning program. Maus assigned her students the task of an idea to improve the school.

“It was kind of a fun activity,” Maus said. “It was pretty cool to hear their ideas. Even some of my more difficult students kind of shined on those days because they got to speak.”

The students were then tasked with creating a presentation about the ideas ranging from an in-school yoga center to helping younger students with homework assignments. Other teachers were invited into the class and Maus said the students had to be prepared for any and all questions.


“They had to come up with an idea that cost zero dollars so that was really hard for some of them to wrap their minds around the fact that they couldn’t spend any money,” Maus said. “It was kind of cool to see them answer questions and see those aspects of communicating with an adult in kind of a professional atmosphere.”

They could be considered the "professionals" of the Wildcats’ campus. The last year of elementary school poses an exciting challenge to Maus and the rest of the fifth grade teachers in the district.

“This year they kind of get to be the big kids in the school so they have a lot of different kids looking up to them,” Maus said. “The little kids kind of find them and every time (fifth graders) are doing something they are watching them. We talk a lot during the school year about being a role model.”

It is not all fun and games for the crew at Gussner. With fifth grade being the last of the elementary school, nerves and pressures begin to heighten as the school year nears the end.

“It’s a really big job for us fifth grade teachers in the district to kind of ease those pains and give them comfort so that they don’t feel like it’s such a big change,” Maus said.

Maus has worked closely with other fifth grade classrooms and teachers to try and ease the fears with events that bring together all of the 10- and 11 year-olds in the Buffalo City.

“We take a tour of the middle school and kind of show them that it is not as big as they feel it is,” Maus said. “My co-worker and I put on a fifth grade dance so they get to see all the different fifth graders in the district. Jamestown does a really nice job of having sports and extracurriculars all together so they get to meet a lot of people.”

Day by day she is busy trying to prepare her crew of fifth graders to take on the rest of their time at Jamestown Public Schools and it is a profession that gives back on a daily basis.


“I love the lightbulb moments when a student gets it,” Maus said. “To see those little lightbulbs is just what I live for when they finally get it and the frustration turns into a smile. I see those daily in the classroom.”

Gerber is a sports writer for the Jamestown Sun.
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