An Ode to Teachers

Did you happen to catch our Facebook posts all week? If not, you can see them all below. In honor of Administrative Professionals Day & Teacher Appreciation Day (or week, depending on who you ask), we've been reflecting on our absolutely incredible team and what that means for the quality and integrity of this school. 

Teachers are heroes. This is both obvious and true. It has become almost pat or cliche to say as much, yet a cliche is such for a reason.  We cannot take it for granted and allow it to let us lose sight of how much teachers matter, how important their role in education and making our world a better place. We all have a teacher who helped change our life.

All teachers are heroes, but then there are the truly great ones...teachers who instinctively “get it.” They connect with children, children of different personalities and learning styles, they engage them. They get excited by the opportunities to foster learning and by watching real learning happening.

Then, there is the opportunity to actually teach- teachers who are truly great AND who have the freedom to do what they are masters at. These are the PCS teachers.

When we founded this school, we knew that identifying phenomenal teachers would be an essential component to our success. We still believe that, with one caveat: now, we believe it is THE essential component to our success and to a child receiving the best education.

Our teachers truly make this school great. If you haven’t had a chance, please look back at our Facebook posts this week to reflect on each teacher’s incredible contributions to this school. No embellishments. It’s simply staggering. They are providing our children with an unparalleled, priceless education. Each day we watch in awe as they unleash their energy, dedication, boundless creativity and thoughtfulness in the classroom.

When we give tours and people are impressed with the school- we point out that it is them that makes this school great. If we can take credit for anything, it is only one thing: being fortunate enough to attract remarkable humans to guide the learning at this institution and then getting out of their way to let them do it.

Certainly you know how much dedication, commitment and love they GIVE to this school. But it still bears repeating and recognizing and shouting from the rooftops. Whether altering a classroom design or approach for a child’s needs, running a fundraising campaign to improve the learning experience for students, jumping in to cover each other’s classrooms, building a service-learning program, creating a yearbook for the school, celebrating a child’s achievements, creating magical and deep learning experiences, meeting, emailing or talking with a family about their child, losing sleep thinking about one or many child’s needs, this is the TIP of the iceberg of what they are giving to our children.

There is no way to show enough appreciation, adequate gratitude. We can’t repay them in the way that they truly deserve, but we do try to thank them frequently and effusively, to respect them, help them, and honor them.

What they are doing alters the trajectory of our children’s lives for the better. That is proven.

Sharon, Shannon, Ashley, Miranda, Megan, Trish, Eileen, April, Deb, & Johanna: you blow our minds every. single. day. Thank you for making PCS great.

Maggie KritsbergMaggie is our office administrator extraordinaire - but this title doesn't begin to describe what she does. Maggie takes charge of registration, billing, phones, filing, tracking...well everything, fevers, booboos, clothing changes, early care and after care (kids beg to come in early or stay late with Maggie) and much much more. And she does it all with the most gentle, kind, positive and calm attitude. Oh, and in her "spare time" she made an origami butterfly with each child and came in over break to pin up each one individually at the entrance to the school.

Miranda Milligan & Megan Eilers: The patience, humility and creativity of our early childhood facilitators truly know no bounds. Each day, they have thoughtful, well-prepared provocations at the ready, welcoming children in for a day of exploration, activity and engagement. Watching the way they communicate with and nurture these young ones is a joy and a wonder. Oftentimes, at home with our children, we remind ourselves to use the example they have taught us: to use calm voices, offer a listening, open presence, and a gentle readiness for the beautiful and tireless energy of 3 and 4 year-olds. We are in awe of what they do, and tremendously grateful. THANK YOU, MIRANDA AND MEGAN FOR MAKING PCS GREAT.

Ashley Russo: You'd be hard pressed to find a teacher more deeply committed to the success and individualized learning needs of her students than our lower primary facilitator. Once a child enters her classroom, they never want to leave: not for the end of the day, not for the weekend, and definitely not for school breaks. When you walk by her classroom you inevitably hear singing, engaged conversation, deep listening and LOTS of laughter. Yes, laughter! In school! Ashley embodies the PCS endeavor of infusing learning with joy. She has also spearheaded a wonderful STEAM initiative at the school. Her classroom's STEAM center - that implements integrated, collaborative, student-driven, creative-thinking, project-based learning- is an absolute student favorite. We are all so lucky to have her at PCS. THANK YOU, ASHLEY, FOR MAKING PCS GREAT.

Shannon Timoney: Shannon joined PCS just this year as our upper primary facilitator, and her reputation as a superior teacher preceded her. But, even knowing her reputation couldn't have prepared us for someone this amazing. Shannon's dedication, creativity, preparedness and thoughtfulness is quite apparently limitless. She truly knows her students, she knows how to inspire deep learning and she knows how to laugh and have fun. What's this picture, you ask? Oh, you know, just a model of the international space station designed, built and described in astounding detail by our 4th-6th grade students. A favorite Shannon story- we were asking a question about what her students learned on a particular project. She started to launch in, and said, "you know what, you have to ask them. They know it better than I do." This is the sign of a teacher who truly gets it: Shannon inspires her students to want to unlock the doors of knowledge, not concerned about whether she is an expert at what lies behind those doors, but confident that the inspiration and guidance will propel the students to engage with the content more deeply than anything she could have just given them. She inspires us all daily. PCS is so lucky to have Shannon. THANK YOU, SHANNON, FOR MAKING PCS GREAT.

Sharon CookIf you've met her, you likely already know: Kindergarten facilitator and education director, Sharon Cook, is a genius. She came to PCS 3 years ago and has played a crucial, game-changing role in transforming this school into the place we envisioned it could be. Walk into her classroom and you FEEL the energy: the buzz of happy children immersed in CHILDHOOD: playing, wondering, discovering, finding magic everywhere, and learning along the way. The children don't even realize that the woman behind the curtain has masterfully created these spaces and opportunities for joyful learning. We've never met a person so passionate, so full of ideas and inspiration, with an equal ability to implement them. And, as if that were not enough, Sharon has a deep well of knowledge of pedagogy, theory, and curriculum that she implements, and uses to share and guide the rest of the school community. Whether her students are jumping out their window to dig in the garden and use all their senses to explore the soil, recreating literature through shadow play, planting jelly beans to see what will grow, or determining the size of their garden using their bodies as measuring sticks: Sharon is fostering magical, playful, sensory, deep meaningful learning that leaves our young students hungering for more. What more could anyone ask for? THANK YOU, SHARON, FOR MAKING PCS GREAT.

Learning Specialists Eileen DeCecco & Trish Eckardt are so very much more than those titles. Eileen is also our guidance counselor, but that still doesn't begin to describe what she brings to PCS. In her 3 years at PCS, Eileen has nurtured and gently counseled children of every age, helped them navigate their challenges, look for solutions, learn to be gentle, respectful, thoughtful, courageous, collaborative. She's paved a beautiful path at PCS, last year launching a student council program, and this year introducing a comprehensive service learning program for Upper Primary that we have always dreamed of having. Because of her, PCS students are immersed in their community, they care more, they understand more, they love more. Trish is a co-founder of Peconic Community School and has been on this journey every step of the way: sharing ideas, developing resources, and advocating for the school's success. A deeply passionate and knowledgeable educator, she won't rest until she's helped a student in every way she can think of. She implements educational techniques that are proven to work, and allows the learning to unfold, as it always does under her direction, naturally and happily. If you peek in on Trish with a group, she's either asking a question to probe the student to go deeper or she's listening thoughtfully to students discuss a text. She knows how to hand over learning, how to document thinking and to inspire reflection. We are in total awe of these two women. THANK YOU TRISH & EILEEN FOR MAKING PCS GREAT.

And last, but definitely not least: our music teacher, April Johnson, art teacher, Deb Lukasik and spanish teacher, Johanna Boutcher. These three women have difficult jobs: any specialist knows that coming in once or twice a week for a couple of hours can be a more challenging teaching environment for a multitude of reasons, but you'd never know it with these three. To a tee, they always come in with a smile and totally prepared with integrated innovative lessons. In every class they eagerly and creatively share their passions with the children. That energy and preparedness in turn facilitates an infectious connection to the subject. Whether bucket drumming, singing, sketching, painting, or hablando en espanol, PCS students joyfully learn new skills, and are opened up to new ways of thinking and communicating that will deepen their learning and lives forever. These women are awesome. THANK YOU APRIL, DEB AND JOHANNA FOR MAKING PCS GREAT!