RIDGWAY — Marcia Raubenstrauch has spent 36 years teaching in the Ridgway community, helping students grow into the best versions of themselves.
Raubenstrauch has taught at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School for 26 years, and is in her fourth year of teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Agriculture and Mathematics) there. Prior to that, she taught for 10 years at St. Leo’s School.
“I believe it’s vital to provide hands-on learning experiences, so students can become life-long learners,” she said. “It allows me to present these concepts in a meaningful, problem-solving atmosphere, where students learn the skills they will need in real life.
“In elementary school, they need to begin to learn and understand the world around them.”
Each year, Raubenstrauch aims to improve her curriculum by adding new activities, such as students learning Lego robotics.
She also tries to keep students involved in helping others. In December, students collected canned foods and built canned-food castles to benefit CAPSEA (Citizens Against Physical, Sexual, Emotional Abuse) of Ridgway.
STEAM activities teach students important life lessons, too, such as sharing, cleaning up and having respect for themselves and one another, Raubenstrauch adds. An activity may include building a catapult, making patterns, planting and growing marigolds or learning how to code a robot.
Raubenstrauch brings students into a StarLab mobile planetarium, where a projection system helps students learn about stars and constellations and ancient legends.
“They are often having so much fun that they don’t realize they are learning,” she said.
Raubenstrauch recalls when a little boy in kindergarten told her it was “the best day of his life” when students built the Lego wall during the first week of February.
It makes it all worthwhile when a student brings in something they created at home or researched on their own, simply because they’re excited to learn, she said.
“I feel like I’m making a positive impact in the lives of children,” she said. “I really enjoy what I do.”