My Journey to Little Acorns Preschool
(By: Evelyn Whiteside Director/Teacher)
When I completed college some 30 years ago with degree and teaching certificates in hand I didn’t seek out any opportunities in the world of early childhood, in fact I’m not sure I even knew that area existed in the field of education. So I spent a few years doing various things with elementary age children in private and public school settings. Mostly, I worked with children who had various learning challenges and were part of the special education system. I had a fulfilling career and continued to learn a lot. Then I had a child of my own. Fully intending on returning to my teaching position, I began to investigate care situations for my baby, let’s just say I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my choices.
I remember being somewhat devastated at the thought of not returning to the classroom, but not being one to stay stuck in a negative emotion I decided to come up with a plan. I thought if I was going to stay home with my child why not develop my own program. I quickly went to work, converting our basement to my workspace and researching all the rules regarding home day care. I quickly had a successful home business going and our second income problem was solved. I really thought as if this would be a temporary measure until I could go back to teaching. My “temporary” turned into 10 years of 7am-6pm days. I was exhausted each and every day , but I just loved being with those young children and found myself wanting to understand more and more about “what made them tick”. I went to workshops, conferences, college classes, and read books about any and all topics related to early childhood. Mostly, I just spent lots of time with little people playing, observing, and learning from each and every one of them.
During the years of having day care in my home, we added child number 2 to our family. Although I essentially had preschool in my house, I did choose to send my own 2 to a local preschool a few days a week for a couple of hours before they entered Kindergarten. I felt they both needed at least a little time away from MomJ One of the benefits was I got to observe how other great teachers worked with young children, so I learned even more. As my second one was finishing up her time in preschool I got a call from the director to see if I would consider teaching there. It was a tough decision, but since both my own children were off to elementary school I thought perhaps it was the time to move back to a school setting. I spent another 10 wonderful years there with 3, 4, and 5 year olds and their families.
One day I had an itinerant teacher in my classroom who was there to work with a student who had an IEP (individualized education plan). She had been in my room several times that year so we had gotten to know one another. She said to me, “You know Evelyn, when I come in here I never really have to do anything because you have it all under control. You really have such knowledge of how to differentiate instruction and work with each and every child at the preschool level. Have you ever thought about going into early intervention?” She got me thinking again, I did have that certification in special education; maybe I should be putting it to more use.
Long story short, I found a position in early intervention. I worked in another classroom I loved known as an “inclusionary” model preschool. Such a model intentionally combines students with identified learning delays with those who are making typical developmental progress. Again, working with the children and families was energizing, however the paperwork involved with the special education part of the system was starting to become more and more overwhelming for me. I found myself wishing for the days when all I needed to focus on was creating a safe and fun learning environment for preschool children.
An opportunity came up at The Green Tree Church of the Brethren to start a new preschool program. The church wanted a program that could serve as a community outreach, a way to use their beautiful facilities during the week for the good of the area neighborhoods. They needed someone with background in early childhood and a passion for young children. I am excited to respond to that calling and develop Little Acorns into a place that is known in this area for being a safe, exciting environment for young children full of developmentally appropriate learning experiences.
The field of early childhood education is its own “specialty” in education. I have spent a great deal of time learning about it and I have spent the majority of my career working in this field. However, I know every child, every class; every family has something new to teach me continually renewing my passion and energy on a daily basis. I am hopeful that many who take the time to read this will allow Little Acorns Preschool the honor of working with your young child or children.