McKaley Boston is an 11-year-old who wants to be a teacher. The daughter of Mike and Kristi Boston, McKaley is a fifth-grader at Lansdowne Elementary who has carefully watched every move her teachers have made since she started school and brought it to life at home in her own miniature school setting.
Complete with classroom pets Spot the goldfish and Honey the hamster, this miniature classroom includes lesson plans for different subjects, classroom rules and a weather corner.
The home classroom started out as a playroom and slowly has been transformed for academic purposes over the past few years.
"Mom and Dad put up the chalkboards, and we got a lot of things from The Dollar Store," said McKaley, who has been emulating her teachers since she was in kindergarten.
Kristi Boston said a friend who teaches first grade handed down a lot of stuff from her classroom, giving the room an authentic feel.
In the classroom, 15 American Girl dolls sit at small desks, sharing seats so they can do group work. The dolls all have names and are expected to answer when lessons are taught. McKaley admits she answers for the dolls, but that kind of leeway gives her the opportunity to try different teaching techniques.
And, of course, it helps alleviate discipline problems.
"She will be in her classroom for hours teaching her students. I can hear her talking and talking," said Kristi.
McKaley's students are perpetually in first grade, since that is her favorite grade to teach. She has devised a complete curriculum that includes reading, writing, addition and subtraction, geography, holidays and special classes such as art and Spanish. She maintains a schedule and records grades for each student.
McKaley has developed different personas for the special teachers in her classroom, like the art and Spanish teachers, and uses a 10-inch mini-laptop to access websites such as Busy Teacher's Café and Super Teacher Worksheets to supplement lesson plans. She also takes the class on field trips, which include riding the dolls around her Sardis Pines neighborhood in a wagon to discuss age-appropriate science lessons.
Amy Shapiro, McKaley's fourth-grade teacher last year at Lansdowne, said McKaley's level of passion for teaching is extraordinary.
Shapiro, 26, found out about the miniature classroom when McKaley wrote her a note and put it in her classroom mailbox. It said McKaley wanted to be a teacher like her. It was only later Shapiro discovered what extent McKaley was taking her desire to teach.
"Kids are always telling me a profession they would like to do, and I usually say, 'Well, maybe,'" Shapiro said. "But there's no doubt McKaley will be a fantastic teacher."
McKaley's level of creativity and passion are unusual today, when kids spend so much time on other activities. The school day has almost no time for creative play.
A recent article about creative children in the Wall Street Journal said it is better to allow a child to take their creativity wherever they choose and not put so much emphasis on the outcome. With kids, most creative play is replaced by something new in short order.