October 10, 2017 | Staff
By CDA Staff: Cristin Lees, Special Projects Coordinator
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Georgia’s Pre-K program, not only throughout the state of Georgia, but here at the CDA as well, we thought it important to spotlight one of our own Pre-K teachers, Kim Donahoe. She has been at the CDA for seven years, and a teacher for nine. Donahoe credits her love of teaching to wanting to see the children she works with each day succeed not only in school, but in life as well.
“I truly feel that one of the biggest benefits in early childhood education is the foundation it gives kids to grow socially and emotionally. School is society, and they need this foundation to be ready to learn,” Donahoe said. “They could be an intelligent child, but if they aren’t emotionally ready, they won’t necessarily succeed.”
Some of her favorite teaching moments come from seeing a child who may have started out the year with some difficulty, whether behavioral or academic, begin to understand the expectations she has for them and rise to the challenge. Donahoe has found that with a lot of love and time invested in a child, especially one with emotional or behavioral issues, she will often end the year with an entirely different child in her classroom, personality wise, than the one she started the year with.
Her own personal experience in elementary school has helped shape her teaching philosophies. Remembering what it was like to be a struggling young student herself, she said that she hates to see any child struggling and will take necessary steps to help right the course. She said that getting parents agree to a course of action can sometimes be a roadblock, but persistence and early intervention are key.
Donahoe related a story of a past student who started out the year with behavioral issues that needed addressing. They got him referred for help that year, and by the time he was in second grade, he was out of any remedial classes and in a regular classroom. “I am doing this out of my love for these children and not wanting to see them struggle,” she said.
Donahoe said that something she loves about teaching at the CDA is getting the opportunity to teach multiple siblings from the same family throughout the years. She also said that her assistant, Graciela, is awesome and they share the same “loving but firm” philosophy. Her favorite time of day is reading stories to her students. Books that she loves reading the most include the Splat the Cat series, Ezra Jack Keats and Mo Willems stories, and she shared that Ted Arnold’s illustrations are also a favorite.
When asked to describe the CDA volunteers, one word summed it up. “Amazing,” she said. “They step up and take care of these kids, they keep the playground equipment up and the yards clean for the kids to play in. The kids love all of the volunteer readers, they love the Rotary Treasure Hunt, it’s all so great.”
One final thing she shared is that teaching at the CDA allows her and her fellow teachers to just be teachers. “Of course there is paperwork,” she said, but they have the freedom to teach their children and in the manner needed to reach a four year old and have them be successful.
A favorite quote from Magda Gerber sums up her attitude. “Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write or count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child…”
Donahoe is a mom of two, ages 18 and 27. In her spare time, she is a volunteer and a lead adoption counselor at a local cat shelter, Good Mews. She lives in Roswell and also enjoys gardening, reading and DIY projects.
As a pilot school for the Georgia Pre-k program at its inception in 1992, the CDA is now in its 25th year of offering this nationally recognized program to our students. Studies have proven that students enrolled in a Georgia Pre-k program are more prepared for Kindergarten, earn higher grades throughout their school career and show significant growth across many areas, including: math, literacy and language and social-emotional skills.
I wish I were a wallaby living in the zoo.
Or maybe a Kawala or Australian kangaroo.
Even an opossum would be just fine, it's true.
Because they have built-in pockets unlike me and you.
The READ strategy developed by the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School provides evidence-based approaches to building language and comprehension. Watch the video to learn what you can do to make books come alive for your children and increase their learning. They also have free books that you can download and share with your children using the READ strategy. Click here to see the program.