Preschool is an exciting and fulfilling time, for children and teachers alike, says preschool teacher Erin Reed.
“It’s pretty easy to feel loved by these 40 kids, with them coming every day with hugs and stories and excitement,” she says. “You go to high school and most kids aren’t excited to be there, but you come to preschool and they are waiting at the door.”
The Centerville Community Preschool, where Reed teaches, began after the state of Iowa’s initiative to provide tuition-free preschool for 4-year-olds. The school, which also includes tuition-based 3-year-old preschool and a daycare, is in the former St. Mary’s school building.
Preschool for 4-year-olds is still voluntary, but Reed says most parents participate. Her preschool serves 80 4-year-olds, and other 4-year-olds attend preschool at Kids World and Head Start. This early foundation in academics and socialization, she says, bears fruit on down the road as students grow up.
“Our numbers seem to increase more and more each year, which shows that parents are realizing that preschool is important,” Reed says. “They need that social aspect.”
Students’ interests often drive the academic curriculum, Reed says. Recently the preschoolers finished up a study on trains. Reed had taken a train to Chicago and talked about it in class, and her students were so excited about it that they did a study on trains, including a trip to the Appanoose County Community Railroad.
“The studies go wherever the kids take them,” she says. “When they lose interest we move on to something else.”
Reed grew up in Centerville. She says right now a large number of her students are the children of her own classmates.
“It’s always nice to be able to connect children’s faces with their parents,” she says. “It helps build the bond between me and the child.”
Reed says she didn’t anticipate settling down here, but after college at the University of Northern Iowa she returned for a while. She was substituting at Howar Junior High when she met her husband, Jason Reed, a student adviser there. The Reeds have one daughter, Maizy, 5.
“I love the Centerville community and I’m happy to be here,” she says. “I’m happy to be raising my little one here.”