From business to Teacher of the Year

Therese Warner was in the business world when inspiration struck.
“I thought, Well, if I’m a teacher, at least I’ll have seven hours a day with these kids, and they’ll be safe, and they’ll be treated with respect, and they’ll be learning, and they’ll be in a good environment,” said Warner, whose first dealings with youngsters came working in a retail store after graduating with a business-management degree from James Madison University.

She went back to school to get an education degree, and is now the pre-K teacher at McGaheysville Elementary in Rockingham County. Her job is to give kids the building blocks to what they’re going to learn later on. “It’s what kindergarten used to be. We work on colors and shapes, and we do the alphabet. By the end of the year, most of my kids know the letters and sounds. They make tremendous progress. It’s amazing to see how much they grow during the year, socially and academically,” Warner said.

Warner, a Rockingham County native and Turner Ashby High School alum, was named the 2008 Rockingham County Teacher of the Year for her efforts in the classroom, which are substantial given the age group that she works with. Warner is responsible for giving her 4-year-olds a grounding in language arts, math, science, the social sciences and history, which would seem to be a tall order for kids that age.

But Warner isn’t turned away by their youth, and in fact is thinking that the education process needs to start even sooner. “Something that I’m very interested in right now is birth to 4,” Warner said. “I think we need to educate our parents in the hospital. We need to have information for them in the hospital about what they need to be doing at birth. They need to start reading to their children at birth. If we don’t get them ’til they’re 4 years old, and their parents don’t know what to do with them, because nobody’s ever told them, it’s not something that they’re knowledgeable about, then they’re behind. I have kids who don’t know colors and shapes, and that’s something that you can work with them on. A 2-year-old can pick that up. It’s just that parents need to be taught what to do with kids,” Warner said.


– Story by Chris Graham


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