The following is an excerpt from our section on “Teaching Philosophies”.
Thoughts on Facilities…
This summer, I was able to spend some time in my hometown of Wooster, Ohio. During my stay, my twin boys, Abe and Cal were attending a camp at the fine arts center, which meant I actually had some free time. I decided to go and wonder around the campus of the College of Wooster and relive some of my glory days. After all, I could still pass for a college student, right? Even though most of the students were away for the summer, most of the buildings were open, and I was able to meander my way through campus enjoying being around an atmosphere ripe with knowledge and learning. The college was built in 1900, and I have to say, there is just something about knowing that other people had been making the same walk and enjoying the same “spirit of seeking knowledge” that I was for over 100 years.
The church building our preschool is in isn’t new. It is old. It even smells old. The part we are in was built back in the late fifties and the rest of the building is even older. There even used to be a county preschool here in the early sixties. It has seen many people walk through it’s hallways over the years. I have talked to some of the kids who grew up at A&HT, and all of them have described the lower level, (okay, it’s a basement), where we are, as being “creepy and spooky.” When I walk through our school, I really do not get that feeling. I sense the same “spirit of seeking knowledge” that I felt walking around the College of Wooster. There is a history here and a sense of tradition that seems to be lost in the more modern buildings and facilities.
For some reason, our facility reminds me of the 1970’s movie, the Bad News Bears. The one that had Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal in it. (I really hope some of you reading this are old enough to remember that movie.) Their team, “The Bad News Bears”, practiced baseball on poor playing fields and had some very makeshift uniforms. They played these “fancy” teams who wore new, clean, and matching uniforms and practiced ball using new and modern, (for that time), fields. Of course, during the whole movie you just wanted those Bad News Bears to beat the snot out of that fancy team! Like the Bad News Bears, our preschool with our older facilities really can’t compete with other “fancy” schools. But I really wonder, is new always better? Isn’t it really about the relationship between the teacher and her students that is the most important thing toward learning development? Teachers are born to teach. They can teach anywhere. They can teach in nice facilities, old facilities, or even on the roof of the school building. I feel like so many times these days many parents make their decision for a school based on the “shininess and newness” of the facilities, instead of focusing on the instruction and learning opportunities their child will be given.
I actually love our “basement” preschool. We have tons of room and rooms. We have a super-sized multi-age room, a giant two/three year old room, and an adorable Friday Fun room. We have a preschool office, that has heat, and is bigger than a closet. (At my previous job, I had no heat for 3 years and the office was a closet!). We have a learning/snack/art room for the two/three’s class, we have bathrooms all over the place, a very large art closet, a functioning playground with plans to add more equipment, and storage, storage, storage! The favorite room for every preschooler is the “Muscle Room”. They absolutely adore having a room to go to that they are able to run, scream, and ride bikes around and around. It’s even okay if they “accidentally” run into wall! We love the muscle room, too, because the preschoolers are developing their gross motor skills, getting exercise and learning to manage a “recess-like” environment.
Yes, we may have older facilities. Yes, we may have some blinds that need repaired, some bathrooms that could use sprucing, and some baseboards that need reattaching, but what we lack in facilities we truly make up for with teaching instruction. Plus, I think our students feel comfortable and wonderful sense of ownership of our preschool. I’m a certain they will lovingly remember their “basement” preschool where their love of learning began.