On the record with ... Liesl 'Lisa' Stiegman
Liesl “Lisa” Stiegman is a part-time reading intervention tutor at Cary’s Deer Path Elementary School, where she works with third- and fourth-graders on their reading skills three days a week.
In small groups, she works on how fast students read and on their vocabulary, among other things, while sitting around a table. On the walls in her room are posters for prefixes, suffixes, vowel combinations, word families and other reading concepts.
Stiegman also is a volunteer with the school’s parent-teacher organization and is the PTO’s co-president. She has visited classrooms to give art enrichment lessons.
She was selected to participate in Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress in Washington this month, where she will meet other mothers who volunteer around the country at their children’s schools.
Stiegman recently spoke with reporter Joseph Bustos about the Mom Congress and her work at Deer Path Elementary.
Bustos: How did you get involved with the PTO?
Stiegman: I have been volunteering in my children’s classrooms for several years as an art volunteer. Then a friend pulled me along to the actual co-president role, which is a lot more responsibility. ... The PTO has a lot of ability to get things done that a single volunteer might not have a chance to do.
Bustos: Why did you start volunteering in your child’s classroom?
Stiegman: When you show that you care and you’re connected to the teachers and you’re communicating with them, then [your children] know there’s expectations at home to do their best work. It’s beneficial for them and their future to be involved.
Bustos: You did some work as an art volunteer. When you go into a classroom as an art volunteer, what would you do?
Stiegman: You take that art print, that pre-described lesson plan, that activity, and materials ... and talk to the class for 30 to 45 minutes. You talk about the artist background, ask open-ended questions about the art print, and it gets kids using their creative thinking skills. There’s no right or wrong answer in art because they’re just giving their interpretation.
Bustos: What is your job as a reading intervention tutor?
Stiegman: These kids need small-group instruction. ... So you can more intensely focus on phonics, vocabulary or storylines. We work with comprehension and fluency, and give them a little more special attention. ... Mainly this year, I focused on trying to get them to like reading. Because when you’re struggling with something, it’s not something you’re going to want to do.
Bustos: You’re going to Washington to participate in a Parenting Magazine event. Tell me about it.
Stiegman: Parenting Magazine held a contest for people who volunteered a lot of hours. ...They picked one delegate from every state to come to their Mom Congress. The really exciting thing is, you’re taking your volunteering to a national level, and you’ll get to meet and listen to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the national PTA president Betsy Landers. ... It’s really a great opportunity to learn more. Whatever issues you’re dealing with locally, everybody has them. It’s a way to find out what’s working over in Texas or what’s working in Anchorage, Alaska.
Bustos: What do you hope to bring back?
Stiegman: Some ideas. Maybe for technology, or overcrowded classrooms, or the arts or music of gifted, or anything. I just hope to bring back some new ideas maybe we could implement. Maybe not on a large scale, but on a small scale. Just to be open to new ideas that might work for us.
The Liesl “Lisa” Stiegman lowdown
Who is she? A part-time reading intervention tutor at Deer Path Elementary and a co-president of the school’s parent teacher organization.
Family: She and her husband Craig, 47, have three children: Erik, 12, Benjamin, 11, and Mallory, 9.
Favorite movies? “Gone with the Wind” and “Steel Magnolias.”
Favorite food? Pizza with mushrooms and tomatoes.
If she could try any other job, what would it be? Photographer.