What do you do?
Where do you work and what is your title?
I enjoy working at Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School (RWCNS). We are a play-based preschool for ages 2½ to 5. I am the program coordinator and the Young 5 (or our oldest students) teacher. I have also been a staff naturalist at Starsmore Discovery Center for 15 years in beautiful Cheyenne Canon.
What do you do there and/or what are you responsible for?
I work with the teachers to implement best early-childhood practices. I help to emphasize inquiry and hands-on learning – we love to encourage the children to “tinker” and ask “what if” questions. I am determined to help children be lifelong learners as they gain what some call “academic” skills through writing stories to express their own ideas, documenting their science discoveries or experimenting with open-ended art opportunities. I work with parents to guide and find answers to their parenting and education questions. I also feed the fish.
How long have you been doing this kind of work (total)? How long on the Westside?
I have been teaching young children for 16 years, 10 of those on the Westside (including eight years teaching some fabulous kindergarteners at Midland International Elementary School). I also have been coaching adults who teach young children for more than 10 years.
What do you like best about it (other than quitting time)?
The community that is our 50-year-old preschool. After teaching at RWCNS nine years ago, I returned this year, and some of my former students now babysit my own young girls. Friendships are created that last a lifetime. Former students are now bringing their children – it is wonderful to hear them reminisce as they watch their children create their own memories. I am also given the freedom to implement what is considered best practice for young children – something I have had to fight for in different teaching situations.
If you could change one thing (other than pay), what would it be?
Time. I need more time for my family, for the staff, for the parents and for my students.
What part of your work did your training/education never prepare you for?
How difficult the job of parenting can be – it is the most rewarding responsibility while also being the most demanding. As a teacher for 10 years before I became a mom, I now “get” how quickly children grow, that each child really is different and that answers are not always found in a parenting book. I am a much more empathetic teacher as I struggle to be the best mom I can be to my own girls. My girls have been my best teachers.
What makes working on the Westside special?
Community. It’s a cozy, diverse section of the huge land mass that is Colorado Springs. People enjoy coming to this end of the Springs to enjoy the creativity and individuality that is the Westside.
“What do you do?” is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. If you know someone who has an interesting job on the Westside (but doesn’t live here), he/she might be a candidate for this column! If you know someone who might qualify, give us a call at 471-6776.