Support Preschool Educators
Recently, I attended a seminar offered by Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten Program. I found some of the information useful as well as the handbook of educational standards; however, my years of education and experience overshadowed much of what was presented.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to come in contact with aspiring teachers choosing to launch their careers in the preschool setting. This is a point of concern. Why does teaching at a preschool level seem to be, at best, just a steppingstone for so many? I believe the answer is quite simple: money.
Keep in mind the preschool teacher is usually part of a smaller organization or faith-based facility. But the necessity is greater indeed. We have come to see those in the esteemed positions of neuro- and behavioral sciences join the ranks of all educators to unanimously affirm the preschool foundation as perhaps the strongest building block in a firm educational foundation.
This understanding, however, has not yet translated to the teachers as a financial incentive. For all the effort to present assistance to young children in the quest of acquiring a good educational foundation, I applaud those responsible. But what about the teachers and supporting staff? Are they merely ambassadors of good will?
There should be a challenge to create new ways teachers and supporting staff alike can be financially rewarded, inspired, and encouraged to select preschool education as a career choice, not merely as a steppingstone.
Most schools offer Teacher of the Year awards, but there is nothing of that sort available to the preschool educator. And educators we are. The preschool experience is truly fundamental to a successful education. It's time to step up to the plate and help the preschool educator hit a home run for the team! Without doing so, the foundation we seek to build has a serious crack in it.
It doesn't simply begin or end with the teachers alone. Countless directors, secretaries, and various supporting staff give so much of their time and talents with minimal financial compensation. Personally, I have been an educator in the preschool arena for more than 15 years. In the classroom situation, compensation and awards are the staunchest enemies.
I invite Children's Voice readers to consider and plan for new and creative ways to supplement, stimulate, reward, and inspire all in the field of preschool education. Preschool teachers really are at the front lines of education, and we need your support as we march into the future, keeping in mind we are indeed as strong as our weakest link.
Patricia G. Kerr, Lead Teacher
Riverside Baptist Child Development Center, Miami, Florida
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