"Kindergarten is so wonderful, because I can instill a love of learning in them that they'll carry all through their life," says Heather Donaldson. She teaches at Auburn Early Education Center (AEEC).
While she wants kids to have a good time in her classroom, it's crucial they grasp basic concepts they'll use for the rest of their education. AEEC principal Dr. Lilli Land says of Donaldson's class, "the children are engaged in many reading activities, they're engaged in shared journal writing where they're actually composing sentences and stories and learning to read from their own writings."
The groundwork for reading and writing is expected in most kindergarten classrooms. Donaldson's students are also working on problem solving. They had to build a life-sized tiger from scratch and overcome problems along the way. Donaldson says, "we spent two or three days building with blocks. We built the frame of our tiger and it fell apart, and we found out it wasn't strong enough, so we had to use something else. And we ended up using PVC pipes, so they (the kids) did problem solve and they had to figure out what they were going to do once the tiger fell apart."
Donaldson doesn't just focus on expanding her kids' horizons. She also belongs to the school's professional development committee that helps teachers improve. "The way we (teachers) learn and the way we make ourselves better is through professional development, and through sharing with each other and having people from the outside come in and so that's why I feel like that's important," she says.
Donaldson also works actively with future teachers, training college students who come to her school in preparation for their careers.