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September 21, 2009

My Turn: A great education in the early years can make all the difference

This week's "My turn" column is by Gina Reeves, the head of school of the Brookwood School in Cooperstown.

I received my calling to teach when I was 7 years old. In 1964 my teacher, Miss Bothomley, not only taught her young charges in second grade with passion and desire, but also with a devout love of knowledge and knowing.

As one of her lucky students, it was somewhere between counting the acorns outside and watching bread rise that I learned not only math, physics, language and botany, but I also found my calling to education.

From that point forward, I have always wanted to make a difference for children.

I found that difference could be made by working with others following the same mission: one to create and grow learning environments that are inclusive of the children they are developed for, while they respect and honor a variety of learning styles.

Children, especially young children, are arriving to the educational process with a natural inquisitiveness, a basic desire to figure out the world around them and a zest to be with others.

Given the time, opportunity, a strong curriculum and wonderful teachers, they can achieve an amazing array and depth of knowledge in all of the curricular areas and in life.

Having achieved my personal goal of becoming one of those teachers who listened to, acknowledged and facilitated children in their discoveries of how it all works, I found that the real force of a quality education is being given access to what is needed to accomplish the objectives.

I hope this is true for students, parents, teachers and administrators of any school. For me, however, my next mission became finding ways to ensure that each of these groups is able to get what they need to make great learning possible.

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