Do you ever feel a bit like a celebrity? Being a kindergarten teacher is a very special role. That FIRST teacher (at least at “big kid school”) seems to hold a special sort of mystique. Where a high schooler might be embarrassed or hide if they ran into a teacher in public, to a kindergartner, it is like magic.
I live in the same community I teach. At first I was worried about this. I was worried about running into people on my time off, or having some sort of lack of privacy. What I discovered is that it is a privilege. I bump into students and families in various places. Not every day, but fairly often. At the bakery, the library, the grocery store, my daughter’s gymnastics center – even while driving down the street. And definitely at community events. Whenever it happens, I have found that I am as excited as the kids are about the encounter. There is something very special about the community connection. We smile, laugh, chit chat a bit – nothing major. But the best part is the next school day, when I hear that child whispering to a friend that they saw me at the book store, or when I see them writing about our brief encounter in their writing workshop.
I am reminded how special it is to be a part of so many lives, and how lucky I am to be part of this community. Yesterday I was riding in the passenger seat as my husband drove my family home from dinner out. I glanced to the side, as I tend to do, and briefly saw a mother of one of my students. I quickly waved, but assumed she did not see me, or did not register who it was. As we stopped at a light, we were once again alongside their car. And there was the whole family, smiling and waving. My student was in the back seat, and had rolled down the window to wave excitedly. How special is that?
Last summer I was with my daughter at a community hot air balloon launching. It was just the two of us, and I was not totally prepared for how big and popular the event was. There were crowds, and everyone had staked out spots on the lawn. We were wandering among the food stands, trying to decide where to go, when we came upon the mother of a former student. Within ten minutes we were sitting with them on their treasured spot on the lawn. They had given us a blanket to sit on, and were taking photos for us at the event. We were welcomed into their family outing without a second thought.
There are challenges to teaching young children, but the benefits are endless. I am feeling particularly lucky to have that special role.
image source – http://www.flickr.com/photos/92155448@N00/5906963406