Diane Munshaw insists that her kindergarten students keep her young. “How can you not feel great and young when you’re in a room of 25 five-year-olds?” she asked.
Growing up in Corning, New York, Munshaw was the oldest of five siblings. She was a constant babysitter, as well as a counselor at a girl’s camp during the summer.
“I always knew I wanted to teach for some reason,” said Munshaw. “My love of children just led me down
And she has dedicated her life to her students ever since. After 37 years, Munshaw still loves her job. She considers kindergarten an integral part of a child’s development, academically, socially, emotionally and physically.
“They need a positive and successful school experience. If they don’t like kindergarten, it’s going to be rough,” she said.
Munshaw knows what the kids need to get started on the right foot and implements these qualities into her classroom every day. She is flexible, ready for change, organized and a good role model with a sense of humor.
“You have to be a good role model because they’re always looking at you. You have to be firm, but loving, and let students know there are rules,” said Munshaw. “[But on a lighter note], you have to give each kid a smile and something positive … and one-on-one contact.”
For Munshaw, being a teacher is in and of itself its own reward. She enjoys seeing progress made by her students, watching them grow and getting involved with the parents. When she started teaching, she remembers kindergarten was more play-based. Now, Munshaw is teaching the four and five-year-olds to read and write. The experience of teaching young children is unlike any other to Munshaw because of the sense of wonder kindergarteners bring with them to the classroom.
“They do a lot of hands on things because they learn best by [getting involved],” said Munshaw. “I love the wonder they bring because they’re out of their environment. They come up with new ideas, [always] asking ‘why?’ And they have new answers and new ways of doing things.”
But teaching kindergarten is not without its difficulties. “It’s fun and very busy, but sometimes it’s challenging. It’s a very stimulating job and it keeps you on your toes,” said Munshaw.
During the summer vacation, Munshaw enjoys gardening, reading, traveling to visit family and historical places, biking and walking. But she doesn’t ever stop being a teacher.
“During the summer,” said Munshaw, “I’m still thinking about what the new [school] year is going to bring.”
Munshaw will teach one last year at Horizon Elementary, and then plans to retire. Once she has time for herself, she plans on doing more traveling, visiting her family and just relaxing. However, she is going to miss teaching.
“I think I have the best job,” said Munshaw, “because [the students] bring so much joy to you.”