My boyhood friend, Guy Protano is so excited and full of pride for his outstanding kindergarten teacher granddaughter that he asked me to write an article about her. I will share her story later in this article. Her name is Nicole King.
My opinion on why kindergarten teachers are so valuable is based on my 34 years in the public school system. I served parents and the community as a classroom teacher, an elementary principal and an assistant superintendent of schools.
Teachers as Artists
Buttressing my opinion is the classic essay that appeared in the Kansas City Times and was made famous by the commentary of Robert Fulghum, ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. In 1991, my three kindergarten teachers, Lisa, Lucia, and Phyllis gifted a copy to me. It’s a great gift for parents too.
Kindergarten teachers and all superior teachers are genuine artists. Lay people don’t often think of teachers as true artists but they are in every sense of the word. Outstanding teaching is an art form. Usually when someone mentions an artist, the mind wanders to names like Frank Sinatra, Leonardo DaVinci, David McCollough, Ana Pavlova, Michelangelo, Georgia O’Keeffe or Leonard Bernstein. Do you think any of these famous artists could teach a kindergarten class? No Way!
The formal definition of “the arts” refers to the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Well, did you ever see an extraordinary kindergarten teacher or any outstanding teacher perform?
I evaluated many “teachers as artists’ ‘ I am a bonified witness to their creativity, imagination, beauty, truth and emotional power. It’s a thrilling experience.
Highly effective teachers -like artists- act instinctively. It’s part of their repertoire. And they are the whole package: researcher, writer, planner, organizer, performer, and self-assessor.
Many great artists have legacies but none so great as an inspiring teacher who can influence lives and behaviors and learning. A parent recently reminded me of remarks I made at a kindergarten graduation. Many years ago. I said kindergarten teachers should make more money than other teachers including college professors. I have to rethink that because after teaching as a college adjunct professor for six years, I realized that professors don’t make much money. Anyway, you know what I mean.
And the Research Says
The reason kindergarten teachers are so valued is because they are responsible for components of learning that provide a path to school and life success in later years; social and emotional skills.
Daniel Goleman, in his ground breaking book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, states the following:
A report from the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs makes the point that school success is not predicted by a child’s fund of facts or a precocious ability to read so much as emotional and social measures: being self- assured and interested, knowing what kind of behavior is expected and how to rein in the impulse to misbehave; being able to wait, to follow directions and to turn to teachers for help; and expressing needs while getting along with other children.
Almost all students who do poorly in school, says the report, lack one or more of these elements.
Kindergarten teachers, more so than other teachers, are charged with the social and emotional learning of their five-year old students. Parents take heed because you can learn much from the great ones. After all, parents are the first teachers, role models, and influencers.
Who is Nicole King?
And now to Nicole King. This is how my friend Guy describes his granddaughter to me. “Nicole goes above and beyond every single year to make sure her kids have the best kindergarten experience possible. She spends countless hours at night prepping for activities, works through her whole summer break to ensure that her room is perfect and ready for the kids. This year she was selected as “The Teacher of the Year” at her school. I couldn’t be prouder of her because I watch her pour her heart and soul into it daily.”
My friend said it best and now you know why Nicole is a genuine artist who will enjoy a legacy that others only dream of. She has the dedication, perseverance, and devotion to her profession that includes never being satisfied and trying to get better all the time. Isn’t that the way it should be?
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