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The Joy of Kindergarten: Sara Parsons' Passion for Teaching and Making Learning Fun

The Hornet Hive Podcast

Release Date: 02/01/2024

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In this episode of the Hornet Hive, Dr. Christopher Lewis, welcomes Sara Parsons, a dedicated kindergarten teacher with over two decades of experience in the district. 

Sara Parsons shares her journey, dating back to the early 2000s when she and her husband chose Williamston as their home. Drawn by the community's warmth and the unique balance of a small-town feel with ample opportunities, Sara has found fulfillment in teaching and raising her own children within the district.

Reflecting on her 21 years in Williamston, Sara appreciates the district's commitment to innovation. She notes that the schools consistently embrace new ideas, emphasizing the importance of evolving teaching methods. This adaptability, she believes, has contributed to the district's success.

As a kindergarten teacher, Sara sheds light on the joys and challenges of working with young learners. She describes the inherent enthusiasm kindergartners have for learning and the significant growth they experience during this foundational year. Sara emphasizes the importance of building relationships and witnessing the early literacy skills click for her students.

Addressing common misconceptions about kindergarten, Sara dispels the notion that kindergarten teachers are merely entertainers with alphabet pins. Instead, she emphasizes the role of kindergarten teachers in teaching children how to navigate the school environment.

For families preparing their children for kindergarten, Sara advises fostering independence in children by allowing them to perform tasks on their own. Whether it's putting on a coat or managing school supplies, these skills contribute to a smoother transition into the kindergarten experience. Additionally, she underscores the critical role of reading in fostering early literacy skills.

Dr. Lewis concludes the episode by inviting Sara to share a poignant story from her teaching career. Sara recounts a heartwarming moment when a former student, now in her thirties, reached out to express gratitude and contribute to Sara's own children's service project. This touching anecdote illustrates the lasting impact teachers can have on their students, creating a sense of connection that spans decades.

In closing, Dr. Lewis expresses gratitude to Sara for her dedication and contributions to the educational community. Sara's narrative not only highlights the unique aspects of teaching in Williamston but also underscores the profound connections formed between educators and their students over the years.

TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:19]:

Welcome back to the Hornet Hive. I'm your host, doctor Christopher Lewis, one of the members of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education. Really excited to Talk with you again this week, every week. I love talking about all of the great things that are happening within the Williamson Community Schools because there are so many great things happening within our Schools and and I definitely want you to know about all of them, but, also, I want you to know about the amazing people that are in our schools as well. Because Whether you have kids in the district or not, whether you have young kids or old kids that are in the district, you're not going to see and meet Every staff member that are in the schools, but every one of our staff members does amazing things with our kids, and it's important to share with you Who they are, what they do, and how they how they work with our students to make our schools the best they can be. Week, we got another great guest with us today. Sara Parsons is with us, and Sara is a teacher that's been in the district for quite some time and is a kindergarten teacher. And I am really excited to have her here and for her to share her story with you.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:24]:

Sara, thanks so much for being here today.

Sara Parsons [00:01:26]:

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:27]:

It is my pleasure having you here today. And 1st and foremost, one of the things I love doing is turning the clock back in time. So I'd like to go back, Well, a couple of years. Back to the beginning back to that beginning when you were just deciding about coming to our district. What initially brought you to Williams?

Sara Parsons [00:01:45]:

Gosh. I was actually teaching this is back in the very early 2000. I was a 6th grade English teacher up in Gratiot County and ended up moving here a year after that position in 2003 and we love the community actually. My husband and I were looking for a place To kind of settle and make our home base a place where I could kind of teach and work and Williamson kind of fit the bill for a place that I could Teach and live in and we could have a family one day in. So that's what brought me back here. It's 21 years ago, something like that.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:15]:

Now 21 years, a long time long time to stay in one place and to enjoy what you're doing. And for every teacher, there are different reasons. There's different reasons for why someone stays, what and what sustains them in that role. So for you, what Sustains you in the work that you're doing within the district, and what has sustained you in our district, and what makes Williamston a great place to work?

Sara Parsons [00:02:41]:

Well, I love the size of Williamson. I think that teaching and also as a mom to kids who have gone almost finished going through the district here. I think our district size is very unique and that we offer a ton of opportunities For our size, you get that small community feel where you kind of get to know families really well, but you have a ton of opportunity given that size. So I love the community aspect of it and I love it. It's fun to look back. Some of my, you know, I'm waiting for my first 4th or 5th grader because that's where I started here in Williamston back in the early 2000, so I'm waiting to have a kindergartener of a former student. But think that's the beauty of it. The relationships that you get to form in a small district like this are, I think, really unique and make it a special place.

Sara Parsons [00:03:27]:

So I love that about Williamston, but I also love that Williamston since the very beginning. I remember this my very beginning 1st few years. We've always, I feel like been on Sort of the cutting edge in our county. We always, for the 21 years I've been here, have been very good at thinking outside of the box, Trying new things, really looking at how our craft, you know, how we need to change it and tweak it. And I think that's been a great part of teaching here.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:53]:

Now you mentioned the fact that you were early on in 4th grade, but over many years now, you've been in kindergarten. What is it about Kindergartners that you love most, and why have you stayed at that level?

Sara Parsons [00:04:07]:

Well, what's cool about kindergarten, it's Harder in a lot of ways, but kindergartners inherently love school. They just really seem to enjoy it here And they thrive on relationships, which is always something that I've loved building. And a prime example, we had volleyball. I've got a few of my Families who came to my daughter's volleyball game and I thought what a cool moment where I can have my students, my school kids so to speak, be a part of my Home kids and kindergarten is just a fun time because they're excited to learn and a crazy incredible amount of growth takes place the kindergarten year. A lot of Foundational, really important growth and it's really it's cool to be a part of that. It's cool to see those early literacy skills sort of click with kids. I think that's the relationships and and being a part of that foundational work is really cool.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:04:57]:

Being a kindergarten teacher, would you say are there any misnomers, things that people Think about kindergarten that you're like, that's not really true.

Sara Parsons [00:05:05]:

Back in the day, kindergarten teachers were jumpers with alphabet, You know, Apple Pins and I think I think honestly I think kindergarten teachers are just like other teachers. It's a different population of kids because you're really teaching them how to To do school, especially for those kids who haven't been in any kind of school setting, but, gosh, we're just like regular teachers just like everybody else. We just have a bit of a different student

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:05:29]:

population. And for young families that are looking at, hey. My kid's going to be coming to school in the the next year, the next Couple years, and what can I do to best prepare my child for kindergarten? What would you say to them?

Sara Parsons [00:05:42]:

Oh, I would say as many opportunities that you can give your young ones to be independent, to do things independently, I think is really really important. That can be as simple as putting a coat on independently to, you know, being independent with opening and maintaining, you know, keeping track of their supplies and their materials and cleaning up after themselves, so kind of building those independent skills I think are really important, but the, You know, if you're looking at academics, read read with your family members, read with your kiddos, that is the most important thing that you can do for that early literacy success, in my opinion, is just engage them with books.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:06:23]:

Every teacher that I talk to Our storytellers in many different ways, they have many stories that they have from over the years. Is there a story that you can share with me that For you, really epitomizes the experience that you've had as a teacher in Williamston.

Sara Parsons [00:06:39]:

I think a really cool moment I had a few years ago is A former student of mine, so she's now almost in her thirties, I would imagine. My daughters were doing some service projects and this former student of mine from I hadn't had contact with her in probably 15 years or so Found out about this this donation, this collection that my 2 daughters were doing and she found my address and drove over to my house and She donated to my kids but she gave me a really nice letter. I kept it right in my memory box talking about Very specific things that she did when she was 10 years old in my class back in the early 2000s and I've had moments like that where I've kind I've met up with former students in the community and just little things that they bring up and it's really cool to have those moments. But I remember it coming full circle to the student I had when they were 10 coming across something they saw online with my own family and and coming on over to my house to tell me how they were doing and just share how they've Done and what they've done with their life since then. It's it's a really cool when those kids grow up and kind of remember you from way back when.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:07:50]:

Sara, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for sharing your story today. Thank you for being here and for all of the years of helping those young Kids to prepare themselves to move on, and I wish you all the best.

Sara Parsons [00:08:03]:

Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for the opportunity.