By Amanda Johnson
I have a special treat for you today, reader. Our very own Teacher Kathy joins me on the blog. I am very excited and honored that Teacher Kathy agreed to this interview. This is my first year at the preschool and Teacher Kathy is not my son’s teacher, so our interaction has been limited until now. I was thrilled to get to know her better. We even discovered we had a fun fact in common that relates to preschool – read on.
1. In your bio on the website, I read that you went to school in Maryland. Are you originally from the east coast?
I WAS BORN IN RICHLAND WASHINGTON, MOVED TO TENNESSEE WHEN I WAS 13. I MOVED TO WASHINGTON DC MY SENIOR YEAR OF HIGHSCHOOL AND THEN WENT TO UNIVERSITY OF MD WHERE I STUDIED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. MY HUSBAND AND I MET ON THE EAST COAST BUT WE BOTH CONSIDER OURSELVES WEST COAST PEOPLE. (HE WAS BORN IN COLORADO). WE MOVED BACK TO THE WEST COAST 40 YEARS AGO TO ATTEND UW GRADUATE SCHOOL AND WERE BOTH FORTUNATE TO FIND JOBS IN OUR FIELD RIGHT HERE. THIS IS HOME.
2. What made you switch from teaching in public schools to being a preschool teacher?
I DID TEACH ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE TO PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR A COUPLE YEARS, BUT MY PASSION HAS ALWAYS BEEN TEACHING PRESCHOOLERS. I HAVE TAUGHT IN BOTH PUBLIC SCHOOL PRESCHOOLS AND PRIVATE PRESCHOOLS. MY FAVORITE PRESCHOOL EXPERIENCES HAVE BEEN HEAD START AND CO-OP PRESCHOOL.
3. What was a highlight for you when your children attended BFCP?
WHEN MY CHILDREN ATTENDED THIS PRESCHOOL IT WAS CALLED LAKE FOREST PARK CO-OP. THE LOCATION WAS IN A SMALL HOUSE BETWEEN KENMORE AND LAKE FOREST PARK. THE BEST PART OF CO-OP FOR ME WAS FINDING ADULT FRIENDS WITH KIDS THE SAME AGE AS MY DAUGHTER. THEY WERE MY LIFELINE AS I EMBARKED ON THE PARENTING JOURNEY. I STILL HANG OUT WITH SOME OF THOSE SAME FRIENDS.
Here's a fun fact about me, Teacher Kathy – I went to Lake Forest Park Co-op too! I was a few years ahead of your kids, so I don’t think we would have overlapped at all. It’s fun to have this special connection to the school.
4. In your opinion, what benefits do children and parents get out of being part of a co-op and why do you choose to teach at one?
ALL SCHOOLS BECOME COMMUNITIES OF CHILDREN AND THE TEACHER. IN THE CO-OP SCHOOL THE COMMUNITY IS MADE UP OF THE CHLDREN, FAMILIES AND THE TEACHER. THIS FAMILY COMMUNITY MODEL PROVIDES INVALUABLE SUPPORT, RESOURCES AND MULTIGENERATIONAL FRIENDSHIPS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.
So true. That sense of community is one thing that really attracted us to the co-op model.
5. What’s one thing you hope families take away with them as they graduate on to elementary school?
BECAUSE MEMBERS OF A CO-OP HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND GROW IN COMMUNITY I WISH FOR THEM THAT THEY TAKE THOSE COMMUNITY BUILDING SKILLS THEY LEARN IN THE CO-OP TO THEIR FUTURE SCHOOL. IT WILL BENEFIT THEM AND THEIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMMUITY. THE WORLD NEEDS COMMUNITY BUILDERS IN OUR MIDST.
6. How do you design the science/discovery and creative play stations each month?
I LIKE TO DESIGN AREAS/STATIONS THAT INVITE CHILDREN TO PLAY AND PROVOKE SOME QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ANSWERED. FOR ME IT IS ALL ABOUT SPARKING CURIOSITY, ENGAGING CHILDREN IN THINKING AND SETTING UP OPPORTUNITY FOR SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT. THE PROCESS IS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT THAT THE PRODUCT. EACH SETTING IS DIFFERENT AND EACH CHILD HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF APPROACHING THE AREA. I LOVE WATCHING HOW KIDS LEARN AND THEN TWEAKING IT THE NEXT DAY TO BUILD ON THE LEARNING THAT HAPPENED THE DAY BEFORE.
I love that! I didn’t know that you adjusted the stations according to what and how children learn. That makes so much sense.
7. How do you define your role as a parent educator?
PARENTING IS HARD WORK AND I ALWAYS HOPE PARENTS WILL SEE ME AS THEIR ALLY. SOMETIMES I AM THEIR “CHEERLEADER” AS I PROVIDE ENCOURAGMENT AND SUPPORT. OTHER TIMES I AM A THEIR “COACH” AND TRY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS AND HELP CONNECT PARENTS TO INFORMATION AND RESOURCES SO THEY HAVE THE SKILLS TO BE THE BEST PARENT THEY CAN BE.
8. How old are your children now and where in the world are they?
LORI IS 31 - SHE WORKS AS A MICROBIOLOGIST, IS MARRIED AND LIVES IN BOTHELL
KERI IS 27 - SHE IS A GRADUATE STUDENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH AT UW AND LIVES IN NORTHGATE
JAIMIE IS 27 - SHE IS AN APPAREL DESIGNER, JUST GOT MARRIED LAST WEEKEND AND LIVES IN BEACON HILL
Here is a wedding picture of our family and the groom’s family from the weekend. It was taken in our back yard.
9. My husband and I run a family travel blog, so I was excited to see you like to travel and camp. Did you do both when your children were young? What are your favorite places to visit?
WHEN OUR GIRLS WERE YOUNGER WE WERE ABLE TO TRAVEL WITH THEM TO CHINA, SOUTHERN EUROPE, NORTHERN EUROPE AND THE SCANDANAVIAN COUNTRIES. NOW OUR FAVORITE PLACE TO “VISIT” IS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. WE THINK IT IS THE BEST PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. LAST SUMMER WE TOOK A FAMLY TRIP TO STEHEKIN THAT WAS A LOT OF FUN. WE ALSO LOVE TO CAMP AT MOUNT RAINIER AND PICK HUCKLEBERRIES IN THE CASCADES. MY HUSBAND, DON, RECENTLY GOT A BOAT SO WE HAVE BEEN ENJOYING SEEING PUGET SOUND FROM THE WATER.
We’ve been enjoying camping in the Northwest too – in fact we picked huckleberries on a hike in the Cascades last summer!
Thank you so much, Teacher Kathy, for joining me today. This was a lot of fun. I find it invaluable for parents to learn about your approach to the co-op and how we fit into the community. As you mentioned – parenting is hard work! It eases my mind knowing that you are out there as our champion, helping our children learn and cheering us on. BFCP is lucky to have you