Tom Moore Our Teacher
In the late eighties, I was a graduate student of Early Childhood Education at SUNY Geneseo, but before I could finish, I was teaching kindergarten at Cobblestone School in the city of Rochester. Cobblestone encouraged a child centered approach. John Dewey’s ideas about child development provided a foundation for much of the educational practice there, and I had the luxury of working with seasoned teachers. During this time I also became very interested in Rudolf Steiner, who stressed the importance of play, wonder, and nurturing the inner development of the younger child through fairytale and verse. But my practice grew more solid when I myself became a father. What a humbling education parenting provides. As a dad, my daughters taught me about appropriate practice in a way no textbook or college lecture ever could. Parenting and teaching continue to open my eyes, my mind and my heart.
Long before working at Cobblestone, I had been an art teacher for the Rochester City School District. I realized early that teaching art was not enough for me. Consequently I was inspired to explore the idea of becoming a classroom teacher. But before going back to school I spent a period of time working on dairy farms, in restaurants, and traveling. These experiences garnered me an appreciation for varieties and rhythms of seasonal work and play, which I would later incorporate in the classroom as play with a purpose.
It has always been a desire of mine that every child feel important and understand that their feelings matter. Children who come together respecting and caring for one another will often grow to function as healthy adults with an appreciation for community. In our classroom we stop everything when friends are sad, hurt or feeling left out, and we talk about how it is important that everyone feel included and safe, with their bodies as well as their hearts. Children are encouraged to notice each other and to let each other know when something isn’t right or if someone is hurting. If these values are all a child takes away from their experience of preschool, I believe that it was time well spent.
Being the teacher for Ellwanger-Barry Nursery School has been such a joy for me. What could be more magical than watching children grow. The parents who make up the community, and the board are amazingly dedicated and give so much of themselves to make this school work. Everybody volunteers, and I often get to work with all of them, occasionally even grandparents. Being a member of the EBNS community has been a high point in my life.