Welcome to this year’s first Teacher Feature! This week, we talk to Mrs. Sue Whitaker, Preschool Teacher at Grace.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Mrs. Whitaker!
I’m from Canada and I moved to the US in 1991. I met my husband in college in Canada, and then moved here. We have 2 children, 19 year old boy-girl twins, who are both in college. And I live very close to Grace!
I love animals. My dad was a veterinarian and when I was growing up, I always enjoyed going on calls with him in the country and taking care of animals. I spent a lot of time with him at his clinic. Now, we have a horse, a cat, two dogs, a guinea pig, and a hamster.
If you know the Preschool classroom at Grace, you know that my love of animals spills over there, since Nibbles (our guinea pig) and Pi (our hamster) spend their days with us! I am really happy to be able to share my love of animals with my students.
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching for about 10 years. I worked as a PE teacher and then as a nursery school teacher at Green Acres, and then I moved to St. Columbas Nursery School to teach the 3 and 4 year olds. I did a lot of substitute teaching, at Woods Academy, Green Acres, Holy Redeemer, Outdoor Nursery, and of course at Grace for many years — which is how I got this job!
What are your favorite things about teaching here?
I love being with the children every day and seeing the smiles on their faces. I am happy to be able to learn and grow with them. With young children, every day is a new day. They teach you how to go with the flow of things.
At Grace specifically, our outdoor space is amazing. I love being outside and get lots of opportunities to do that here. Our program is structured so that there is flexibility for teachers to follow their students’ interests. We go on nature walks and I love exploring and discovering new things with the kids.
Any surprises so far?
I’m just a little bit surprised by how attached you become to your students. There’s something truly special about observing their growth and development all year, and knowing you’ve been a part of that.
Complete this sentence: “To be a great preschool teacher, one must . . .
. . . be organized and flexible. You’ve got to be spontaneous and creative. And you must have a sense of humor!”