Little Fish, Big Pond
Holly Knowles sees the potential in her Clownfish.
Those little eyes. Those busy bodies. Those proto-social interactions. What choices will they make? What will they be influenced by? Who will they grow up to become?
Holly is a teacher in the pre-Kindergarten Clownfish room at Seacoast Community School, and among the many responsibilities she places upon herself, one of the most important is helping these little fish grow up to make a splash in the big pond.
“You can see in them parts of what they’re going to be later on,” Holly says. “It feels good to be there for them and help form their personalities and teach them to be better people.”
Holly has been a teacher in the Clownfish room for two years and has been a part of Seacoast Community School’s student teaching initiative since she began. The program partners early education students from Great Bay Community College with veteran teachers at the Community School for a unique experience learning the ropes of child care. The upshot: developing a high-quality staff and a strong curriculum that nurtures children and builds a foundation for school and social readiness.
“The brain develops in the healthiest way when there are positive interactions between grownups and children,” said Deborah Stokel, Co-Executive Director of Seacoast Community School. “We need to be an emergent curriculum. We need to fulfill goals for individual children.”
United Way places immense value on the development of the young mind, sharing the views of its partner agency Seacoast Community School that a good start can mean all the difference in the world for children. These values drive United Way’s investment in other early learning centers, all of which share a commitment to best practices in curriculum and staff development and making high-quality early education available to as many children as possible.
And it’s not just teachers that have taken on that responsibility. United Way has helped members of the community make a big-time impact on circle times throughout the region: K-Reader Readers, Penny-Smart Readers and volunteers for the K-Ready Kids early literacy drive have put into action that interaction that Deborah Stokel lauds as the healthiest way young minds develop.
“I try to explain to people what we’re doing,” says Holly. “It’s not just watching the kids and letting them do whatever they want. It’s planning a curriculum and teaching them right from wrong.”
It’s a Community thing.