Valley Vignette: Fay Richard learns a lot from her preschoolers


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“You have to have salmon eggs,” said 5-year-old Jack Whittaker, of Mifflinburg. “Rainbow bass only eat salmon eggs and you need treble hooks, too.”

A few moments later, 5-year-old Noah Munson, of Mifflinburg, randomly chimes in on the conversation.

“You can’t fish at the beach,” he said. “There’s too much sand under the water.”

Across the brightly-decorated room, teacher Fay Richard could only smile.

“What can I say? You learn a lot in preschool,” she said. “Over the years I think I’ve learned more from the kids than they’ve learned from me.”

Richard has been involved with teaching for decades, starting with the Lewisburg School District where she earned tenure educating first-graders.

Making memories

“I can’t imagine my life without teaching. I receive so much joy watching each child learn in leaps and bounds from the beginning until the end of the school year,” Richard said. “I am always amazed at how the children soak up so much knowledge during our times together. I consider it a blessing and a huge responsibility to be a part of that growth.”

Richard has been teaching at Little Learners Pre¬school in Mifflinburg for the past 16 years — savoring each memory made with the young boys and girls she

has the opportunity to connect with.

“One of my favorite memories was when a girl tried to correct me. Being a private preschool, we are able to have a daily devotion. After sharing the short message, I asked the students to bow their heads so we could pray,” Richard said. “I was quickly interrupted by one student who said, rather emphatically: ‘Girls don’t bow — they curtsy!’”

Changing times

Richard admits she’s seen many changes during her experiences teaching.

“Show-and-tell has definitely changed over the years,” she said. “We used to have kids bringing in things like squirrel tails to show off to the class. Now, it seems to be all about the electronics. We recently had a child bring in a Wii remote for show-and-tell.”

The curriculum has seen massive changes, too.

“Some of the stuff I used to teach to first-graders I’m now teaching to preschoolers,” she said. “Things like spelling, early reading and punctuation. It is hard to get everything in during the school year while being careful not to rob the kids of their playtime.”

Much appreciation

Richard’s dedication to the students and long hours don’t go unnoticed.

“I really like Mrs. Richard,” said 4-year-old Addalynn Zimmerman, of Miffliburg. “She is funny and nice and really tries to help us get ready for kindergarten.”

Caterina Bartholomew, director of the Little Learners Preschool, agrees.

“We’re blessed to have her inspiring our next group of learners,” she said. “She puts in very long hours and is extremely dedicated to providing the best learning experience.”

For Richard, the biggest blessing can be the support of parents.

“Many parents are so supportive, helping to do some preparation for our craft and other activities, going along on the field trips and being helpers in the classroom,” she said. “It would be impossible to do this job without all the support our families provide.”

Outside the classroom

Richard and her husband, Steve, will be celebrating their 30th an¬niversary this summer. The couple has two grown sons.

“Outside of preschool activities, I enjoy playing games and gardening,” Richard said. “I especially enjoy planting planters for decorating the deck and front porch of our new home. I am active in my church, the Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren. I taught 4-H cooking classes for many years and I enjoy joining my husband in hosting family and friends for special picnics or meals at our house.”

However, Richard still finds the time to keep up on local news.

“I love watching the local papers to follow my former students — the actors, the record-breaking swimmer, the young Americans,” she said.

Little Learners Preschool is 30 years old and currently has seven classes. For more information, contact the school directly at (570) 966-4042.

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~ by zaktansky on June 29, 2013.

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