Sunrise teacher focuses on the positives

September 24, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Matthew Cline is a believer in the positive.

The second-grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary School likes to stay in communication with the parents of his students, to share good news or talk about ways in which the children are excelling and he emails those positives to about 10 families a week, he said.

One reason communicating good news to parents is so important, Cline said, is so that when there’s an issue that needs to be resolved, they’re already familiar with him and know that he is out to help the children.

Sunrise Principal Jennifer Lott said Cline’s focus on positivity helps his students.

“Mr. Cline is a strong advocate for children,” she said. “He is always looking for ways to improve his teaching (and) his students’ learning, and to make sure every student receives the support needed to succeed.”

Lott also praised Cline’s dedication to fun and creative classroom activities and his work on creating positive relationships with his students’ families.

“I admire Mr. Cline for his constant reflections and desire to improve, his enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and his ability to find the positive in almost any situation,” Lott said.

One of the white boards in his classroom bears the phrase “we make compliments.”

The class, divided into “Blue Berries” and “Green Thumbs,” can earn prizes and class rewards by being on its best behavior.

Cline keeps what he calls “star tickets” in his pockets. They go to children showing exemplary attitudes, and can be used to buy items or privileges.

And each day, the two children with the very best behavior are named king and queen of the day.

Cline loves being involved when kids are learning new things, he said.

“If they’re struggling and they finally have that ‘I get it’ moment, that’s so amazing,” Cline said.

Later this school year, Cline’s students will make snow and do other hands-on projects. He’s also planning a couple of field trips and some activities in which parents will be invited into the classroom to “do something with their kids.”

Cline enjoys the challenge of preparing his charges for third grade — a critical year in which students must meet academic benchmarks, he said.

“When (Lott) told me I was going to get second grade, I was really happy,” Cline said.

Two of the rewards of his job are parents who ask him to move to third grade with their children or seek to put younger siblings in his class, he said, and students who don’t want to go home Thursday afternoons.

“They want to stay for the weekend and learn,” Cline said.

The school has won his heart too, he said.

“I love it,” Cline gushed. “Great administration and great teachers. I really want to be here for a long time to come.”

Cline, who has been working at schools since he was in high school in Florida, has been teaching for five years, and was a special education aide in his native Indiana before starting at Sunrise.

A quick passing of a state test meant that he could work on a community project; he chose to assist struggling elementary school students.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to teach,” Cline recalled.

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