Lisa Rasch feels like royalty when she gets to her Jeremy Ranch Elementary Preschool classroom.
“I always say that I feel like this is a princess job because, when you come in, they are so excited to tell you about their day. They compliment you and they love you,” Lisa said. “We get hugs and compliments all day. I mean, who doesn’t want to be around little kids?!”
The fact that Lisa loves being around little kids doesn’t even need to be spoken - the love and joy are palpable the moment her classroom door opens.
There are also no words needed between Lisa and JRES Teacher Assistant Lisa Clift. They’ve worked together for ten years, and are so in sync that many times, they don’t even need to make a sound. They are bound by a love for teaching big things to our smallest students.
Feeling the comfort of that love is a critical part of Preschool - especially when the students are just 3 years old.
“The 3s are so, so important all the time, but especially right now. These are the babies born during COVID isolation - and they haven’t really been away from home. For many, we’re working to teach them how to actually play and be social with each other.”
The isolation implemented by many families to keep these little ones safe meant little to no time at parks, museums, or libraries - and not many playdates. These circumstances have introduced a new set of goals for Preschool teachers.
Lisa ticks off the list she and Lisa C. are accomplishing daily:
- Improving fine motor skills
- Introducing & refining social/emotional behaviors and skills
- Teaching her students to ask each other questions
“It’s so important, so good for them to spend time away from parents with peers their own age. [The 3s Preschool schedule is] three hours, two days a week - just a little sprinkling of time,” Lisa said. “That’s enough for us to work with kids, so they build trust and learn we are a safe place.”
Not only do Preschool teachers guide their students on school acclimation, they work with good mental health skills.
“We work on how to identify emotions. When you’re 3, you may come in screaming, yelling, and crying. We teach them how to label it. And across the board, once that happens, they’re able to calm down and tell us what they need.”
As students grow comfortable with school, Lisa R. and Lisa C. work together to utilize the time away from mom and dad - and they can see the progress.
“We measure growth a few times, starting with an assessment to see where everyone is at the beginning of the year. Right now, in the middle of the year, we do another one, and it’s my favorite one because we see the most growth!”
Growth for three-year-olds looks like this:
- How to find their name based on the first letter
- Noticing the correct way to hold a book (whether it’s upside down or backwards)
- Recognizing patterns
Lisa R cannot stop smiling when she says, “By this point in the year - they are pros!”
And while Lisa may feel like a princess when she teaches, she accomplishes her work with military precision.
“I want my students to have a good taste in their mouth for school. Preschool sets our kids up for the future. If they become intrigued with school, they’ll have the desire to learn. They’ll learn how to read, learn to write, learn how to change the world – and make it a better place. We are teaching them to go be AWESOME!”