By Holly Penta
Crystal Pierce has spent the last 21 years teaching Pre-K at Fairview Alpha Elementary, and she doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. Teaching young children encompasses all typical school subjects, like math and reading, as well as physical education and social-emotional needs. To do this, she must get to know each child personally, so her teaching philosophy focuses on recognizing each child’s individuality and staying positive.
Her classroom, full of color and stimulus, creates an atmosphere where trial and error are acceptable and where love and respect for one another flow freely. Each child is treated with respect and understanding, and discipline is firm, but fair. Pierce knows that each child will learn in his or her own way and arranges her teaching methods to best meet all their unique needs.
Pierce has a clear knack and love of teaching and says that one of her favorite experiences was teaching an autistic child who was sensitive to touch. It was a lengthy process, but by the end of the year he hugged her and was finally comfortable with his own mother hugging him. Being able to witness this intimate moment between mother and child was an experience of a life time.
On the other hand, it’s hard for Pierce to watch children who grow up in less than ideal environments. She hates to see them feel unworthy or unwanted and strives every day to make sure the classroom is always a safe and happy environment. It’s also hard for her to let her babies go as they grow up and leave her classroom. Still, knowing that the children love her and that the parents trust her to care for their children helps her to keep going.
“To know that someone trusts you with their most precious gift of life is heartwarming and frightening at the same time,” she said. Every day she works hard to make sure she is deserving of that trust.
Pierce’s teachers were a positive influence on her when she was growing up and that inspired her to become a teacher. Her advice to those who want to become teaches is to love what and who you teach and to grow with them. As a teacher changes students’ lives, the students will inevitably change the teacher’s life as well.
“Within the classroom, the teacher and children are a family,” she said. “Together they should laugh, cry, and experience life and growth.”
Pierce wants to thank the children and families that she has worked with in the past and is looking forward to meeting all her future students.