August 1 marked one year for me as the director of Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool, a school our millennial parents lovingly call HBUMP.
The preschool staff and families will be quick to tell you that I have sent a lot emails over the past year, and at the bottom of every one is our simple shared preschool philosophy: Love. Play. Serve. It isn’t lost on me that these are the 3 areas in which the children, staff, and parents have taught me the most.
Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool has taught me to:
Keep a sense of humor. Research has consistently shown that good educators have a sense of humor. Laughter is often a powerful addition to my instruction with our young children and I think the staff would agree with me that it has saved us all from our less than desirable work days.
Be detail-oriented and organized. I have found that children and parents alike find security, self-direction, and social responsibility in an organized preschool setting.
Use common sense. It may sound a bit corny, but good educators are practical. I have learned to size up a situation quickly and make an appropriate decision. Whether re-thinking the way we do carpool, stretching an incredibly tight budget, or conferencing with a parent, I have found no better substitute for good ole’ common sense.
Be compassionate. It is our job to instill hope. Strengthening the capacity of both the students and the staff to function effectively and consistently is emphasized daily with kindness and consideration. Everyone responds better to a positive approach, and our preschool staff members are such good models of this.
To just go home. This work is never done. It’s true. But sometimes when you’re tired, have had a long day, and you're still stuck on a problem, you just need to go home.
Don’t take human touch for granted. There isn’t anything quite like that feeling when a little hand slips into yours quietly, without a word. This makes us all feel so special, but it also has taught me about the significance of the human touch for everyone. Take the time to smile at people, and give hugs generously. There are probably people in your life who could use one.
Every day is important. What our teachers do matters, every single minute of every single day. And here’s the thing: it’s not even just the content of what we teach that matters. It is how we treat each child who walks through our door. If you didn’t know this, HBUMP has the absolute best teachers who approach every lesson plan, every circle time, and every parent email as vital.
Love on the kids. Somehow children seem to know when you’re feeling a little bit lost, unappreciated, or generally down, even when you do your absolute best to remain positive. When children love, they love so wholly and without judgement, a lesson us adults need to re-learn. When children bestow on you their cherished work of art, sweet embrace, or loving words, your world gets a whole lot brighter. And that has meant a whole lot to me.
Pray. I find myself praying circles around everything. Our budget, online registration, special events, our preschool board, staff, students, and families have all been prayed for. The amount of times I have had what I needed said to me or given to me exactly when I needed it is remarkable. The instances that our preschool parents patted me on the shoulder or handed me an unsolicited donation is beyond touching. The moments I have been given a hug or other caring gesture from a tiny person that soothed my soul just the way it needed to be is heartwarming. I like to believe all those spirit-lifting God winks come from the power of prayer.
In a time when our nation is squabbling over education and policy makers are in disagreement about everything from assessment to technology, our preschool is an outstanding example that every child - no matter what obstacles stand in the way- can succeed. It is critical for our church members to know this, and to recognize that schools are more effective and caring places when they are a fundamental part of the community. The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, meaning a “group of people called out for a special purpose.” If your calling is children, consider lending a helping hand down in the preschool area. We promise to love on you, laugh with you, and pray for you!