Sara & Julie’s Teaching Philosophy
RVCP offers a multi-age environment which enables us to meet the developmental needs of the children through authentic and meaningful relationships and activities. As children play and build relationships with each other and the grown ups, they practice a variety of skills in which they experience both the role of expert and learner. All decisions that we make as teachers start with the child at the center. Our image of the child is one who is complete, good, competent, powerful, creative, intelligent, inquisitive, enterprising, rooted in culture, empathic, cooperative, resilient and perseverant. Our planning and reflections are built on the belief that children are exactly where they need to be and doing exactly what they need to be doing in this moment in time, and that they can accomplish what they are capable of doing, alone and with others. Our work begins with the unconditional acceptance of our children exactly where they are.
Our Teachers In their Own Words:
Julie Zindle | Over the last 17 years of working in many models of Early Childhood Education, I’ve discovered what appeals to me most about the Coop model, and RVCP in particular is that we –children, parents, and teachers- are all contributing and learning together. Because the family is the young child’s first and most important teacher, and because RVCP is truly a family-centered program, I am better equipped to understand, plan for and support children as they begin this initial entry into the larger world outside of home. I feel passionately about offering children a place where it is safe to be all of who they are – their funniest charming self and their most fearful angry self. Here is where they get to practice the skills that will support them, as they become problem solvers, friends, and members of a community.
I find the title of “Teacher” to be a very ill fitting descriptor of the work I do at Rainier Valley Coop. The terms: “Learner” “Team Member” “Supporter” are closer to reality, because we truly are a community of learners. All of us, adults and children alike, show up each day to grow and strengthen who we are in our roles and in our lives. As a parent I lurch and stumble, and occasionally even glide along, but being a member of such a supportive and caring community has helped me to remember that each challenge is an opportunity for reflection, addressing a need, learning a new skill, and/or deepening a relationship.
Sara Jerger | As a child, I always thought that I would end up teaching, as I grew and changed, my career took a different path and I wound up working in Community Mental Health. I then became a parent, which needless to say, changed my life and as I stumbled through I discovered coop preschool and realized that teaching is my true passion. My goals as a teacher are to remain present, communicate truthfully and authentically, model learning and be a learner in the classroom, model a willingness to change and grow and express an unconditional positive regard for others. The work of preschoolers is to be themselves, as they are today, and to PLAY. While expressing who they are through play, children develop the skills to build community and relationships with each other. Coop preschool is an ideal setting for a preschool class – community building is modeled for the children and every participant is a learner – we are a team working together. Through openness and self-reflection, my hope is that I can facilitate and contribute to an engaging, positive experience for coop families.
I am currently working on a degree in Early Childhood Education from North Seattle Community College. North’s program focuses on improving the quality of early childhood education in the community by modeling the learning environments they hope teachers of young children will create and by practical application of the philosophies they teach. It has been an experience in personal growth, understanding and great learning.
Nancy Levine | I have been frustrated with the more academic approach so many preschools seem to be taking in recent years. Although many are driven by the ever growing demands on kindergarteners, what advocates for such programs are forgetting is the importance of play in a child’s life. Without the social/emotional foundation that RVCP and similar schools help their students to build, kids will lack the knowledge and skills to survive in the world. Here, parents and teachers alike empower them with the tools needed to recognize and solve their own problems, to approach new tasks with confidence and ease, and to identify and deal with their feelings. Through trial and error in a warm supportive environment, our kids practice life skills every day. These skills will stick with them throughout their academic careers.
I chose a cooperative preschool for my own daughters back in the 90′s. At the time, I enjoyed sharing the experience with my children and appreciated the support the teachers and my peers provided me each week. When I recently found RVCP during my search for a new teaching position, I felt as if I had come home. My 25 plus years teaching in secular, religious, or academic early childhood programs had brought me back to a place where I have always meant to be.