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This summer Children’s Institute is highlighting the important work of early childhood educators teaching preschool through third grade. In this series of profiles, teachers from across the state tell us why they teach young children, what they wish people knew about their work, and what they’ve learned in their jobs.

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“I am amazed at the gifts and talents children have innately. As I strive to understand and bring out these gifts, I find joy in teaching children and watching their growth develop in all areas.”

Michelle Gardner Shares Her Passion for Early Childhood Development

Michelle Gardner teaches preschool at Clatsop Kinder Ready Kids in Astoria. Launched four years ago, the district-run program has demonstrated success in preparing children for kindergarten. Here Michelle shares with us her passion for teaching preschoolers who are learning during every moment of their days.

Why do you teach preschool? 

I teach preschool because children and their learning are my passion! I want to be at the beginning level of a child’s learning in order to provide a positive, solid, whole child learning experience for their future school careers and life. I also want to collaborate with parents and families in providing the best opportunities for children.

What is one thing about your job you wish people knew? 

I have loved learning about children and their development for many years—it’s in my blood! I have worked in university preschools and their early childhood education department, earned a double Bachelor of Science in early childhood and elementary education, received a master’s degree in early childhood studies, developed a home preschool, taught kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and fourth grade. I’m now back to my roots and first love: teaching preschool. I love to learn and am still learning more!

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Can you describe a learning experience you’ve had that has impacted your teaching? 

I am amazed at the gifts and talents children have innately. As I strive to understand and bring out these gifts, I find joy in teaching children and watching their growth develop in all areas. I love how learning in preschool is interwoven throughout the entire day: from riding the bus, to greeting first thing, then breakfast, free choice, literacy and math, lunch, outdoor time, quiet time, and closing. There is always something to learn! If I allow the child to be the center of that learning, teaching children is a joyful experience for all involved!

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