It was only a matter of months ago, that the 300 plus students at Dedham`s Early Childhood Education Center were sitting in the gym, staring wide-eyed at their new teachers. These boys and girls, the youngest in our school system, have certainly come a long way since then.
Over the course of the school year, we`ve had the opportunity to check in on these youngsters and share some very special days with them. With the end of the school year in sight, we recently stopped by the school and were able to meet up with some old friends and even make a few new ones.
Dr. Mary Joyce is officially the “Kindergarten Special Needs Teacher” at the ECEC. Like most teachers however, she is much, much more. For years, Ms. Joyce has been an old-fashioned “hands on” type of teacher. We have seen her standing in the rain to greet students as they arrived and sitting on the smallest of chairs to be at their level.
For 10 months each year (we won`t count July and August) Dr. Mary Joyce has been a source of comfort, laughter, and inspiration for both the students and her fellow teachers at the ECEC.
This Spring, Mary Joyce and the boys and girls in Pre-K and Kindergarten, got a special treat when the school took in Student Teacher Gillian Anderson from Framingham State College. Ms. Anderson is just weeks away from receiving her “Masters” in Special Ed. Principal Paul Sullivan told us, that together, the pair has been a joy to work with.
Following Ms. Joyce`s lead, with Book of the Month Club and other reading programs, Gillian Anderson led a special “Book Character Day” that “fit in well with all the literacy lessons the children do daily in school.”
Ms. Anderson told us that the children had been asked to pick a character from a favorite book. A special day was set aside and the children came to school, with their book, dressed as their character. Ms. Anderson and Principal Sullivan took turns reading a story to the boys and girls, about a pig and an elephant that were “in a book.”
After the story, we watched as the youngsters paraded around the gym in costume. We were treated to a host of cowboys, firemen, princesses and more. As we`ve seen in the past, the ECEC is doing a fine job getting our young ones involved in reading and we`re quite sure that Ms. Joyce and Ms. Anderson have learned a great deal from one another.
With graduation just weeks away, the teachers at the ECEC do their best each year, to make sure that our boys and girls have a strong foundation to build on and are ready for the next step in their journey – first grade!
Story and Photo by: Joe Kilroy