When I was little there was no ‘Pre-K.’ The only kindergarten in our town was operated by the school district in a local church. My parents were planning to send me to Catholic school, so I would have to wait for first grade. I couldn’t wait that long, so I snuck in. I walked about a half a mile and asked the teacher, Mrs. Harzell, if I could come to school. She let me sit in one day, and then sent me home. I have no memory of how I got home without getting into trouble.
Years later I met Mrs. Hartzell’s son. He asked his mom if she remembered me, and she did. Apparently, not too many kids tried to sneak into kindergarten. I wanted to read. I heard they did that there. I have been blessed my entire life with great teachers, and I think about those many experiences and am grateful.
Usually we wait until the end of the year to thank teachers. I think we should start now. Teachers are about to launch onto their new adventure. Every year there is a new class, new personalities, new challenges, new names to learn, new material to cover. Every year starts with new hope for a great year.
This week, I was invited to speak to our teaching staff as they kicked off their year. We provide early learning opportunities for over 800 children and we are very good at what we do. When I woke up the day of the talk, I had wondered what famous people had gone to preschool. I quickly put my question into Google, and discovered that the founder of Google, Larry Page, went to preschool. While preschool was once only available to a few, now there are many who attend. I found some very refreshing articles affirming the value of preschool and some reflections by preschool attendees.
CNN did a story on preschool and specifically looked for people who had a High-Scope curriculum experience. They interviewed two women both in their late 30s. One woman, a wheelchair user, remarked that preschool helped her gain confidence she would later need to confront people who would see her as different. Another said she gives back today as a board member in her community because of her preschool experience. Some people may wonder how you can remember things from that young age. Occurrences that matter in a person’s life often get repeated.. I am sure these women are reflecting back on the life-changing experiences in their history that made an impact.
We are all lucky to have experiences that bring us the joy of discovery, the joy of learning something new, the joy of imaging some new possibilities, and experiencing the wonders of our world. Discovery is the reason our new mission statement emphasizes “exploring possibilities.” It is the reason why the “D” in our values (PRIDE) stands for Discovery: looking for new ways and approaches.
Many of us have taken on teaching as part of our role in life (parent, classroom teacher, classroom assistant, supervisor, coach, and grandparent). Whether this is a paid position or a social commitment, teaching is a wonderful obligation and commitment. So look around you, find a teacher, and say thanks now.