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Future educators return to preschool at Starr’s Mill

Attending preschool at Starr’s Mill High is the perfect head start to a great education, just ask the program alums who return as aspiring teachers.

Under the direction of Hope Via, the Early Childhood Care & Education Pathway gives high school students interested in a career in education a chance to learn in an in-depth and hands-on environment.

First-year students study developmental changes from pregnancy through age 12, along with teaching concepts such as guidance and classroom arrangement. They also work with the preschoolers on a limited basis to see if they enjoy it and want to continue the next year.

Second- and third-year students work with the preschoolers 3 days a week. They help plan and implement lessons, and they cook breakfast and lunch.

Fourth-year students run the show as interns. They have administrative duties, create lesson plans, complete developmental evaluations on the children, communicate with parents, and help plan field trips, parties, and performances.

Every day is a bit of a homecoming for some Panthers who once went through the classes as a kid. Just this year there were five students in the pathway that were once preschoolers there.

Eden O’Neal and Emmi Peckham both completed four years in the pathway and look back on their time in preschool fondly.

“I remember playing in the little kitchen. I also remember going on the field trips,” said O’Neal. “I have my old yearbooks, so it’s fun to look back at the photos, and now I’m the older one.”

Peckham built a relationship with a favorite intern teacher, and they met up for many years after.

“I think it’s cool that she was a part of my life for so long, and now I get to be a part of these kids’ lives for so long.”

As they play the role of intern themselves, it is giving them a glimpse into what they hope to do someday.

“I definitely want to do something with kids in the future,” said O’Neal. “Here, we help run the preschool. We come up with the lesson plans, and we make the classroom run smoothly.”

Peckham knows the pathway experience has been a great way to reinforce her career goals.

“It’s definitely something I’d like to do. I love working with kids. I think it’s so fun,” she said. “This is a little pre school, and we help run it. We help with the kids moving around, and we help with their stations and ensure their safety.”

The love and compassion shared between the pre schoolers and the aspiring teachers lights a spark for learning that lasts for years.


Posted 6/13/2024