Sunday, June 18, 2000

   Kindergarten teacher shares rewards, joy

By Phillip Pina
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WYOMING — Computers now sit next to building blocks. Saws buzz outside where new classrooms will sprout. Schools, like the students who fill them, are always changing.

(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        But at Wyoming, one thing has remained constant, Mary Jo Peairs. She was the kindergarten teacher for many of the Class of 2000 students. It is a job she has kept, and loved.

        Her work was on display graduation day.

        On Saturday, they left Wyoming High School as young adults. She likes to remember them as the beaming 5-year-olds who walked into her kindergarten classroom for the first time 13 years ago.

        “They were excited. I was excited. It was such a fun day,” recalls Ms. Peairs, a tall thin woman sitting in a child-sized chair in her classroom.

        There is the shy girl who has come out of her shell and the rowdy boy who has excelled in sports. Those are the changes that make her job so rewarding, Ms. Peairs said.

        The Class of 2000 has always held a special spot in the heart of Ms. Peairs and her fellow kindergarten teachers. More than usual, parents were excited about their children's futures. And the class shared an enthusiasm, said Nora Cordrey, who now teaches third grade in Wyoming.

        The teachers attended the class' senior play. They were often spectators at sporting events and music concerts throughout the class' time at Wyoming. Ms. Peairs kept a photo journal of that first year. Ms. Cordrey has a collection of interviews with the students as they left her classroom for the first grade.

        Being a kindergarten teacher is no easy job. They are the children's initial contact with school, and often times their first prolonged experience away from home.

        There's much more to the class than learning to add and subtract, read and write. The children are taught social skills, such as how to work and play with their peers, Ms. Peairs said. As well as how to share and how to reach out to others. It's quite a responsibility, Ms. Cordrey said.

        But with all that comes plenty of hugs and kisses. And joy, Ms. Peairs added.

Breaking out of the bubble
   Youngsters aged as education did
   Technology opened new world to students
-    Kindergarten teacher shares rewards, joy

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