Meghan Hetherington: Preparing hearts and minds for school and life
Year: 2020 — Province: Alberta
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
BriarPatch Community Preschool
Charitable not-for-profit community preschool for children ages 2.5 to 6 years
Sherwood Park, Alberta
The importance of empathy, inclusiveness and kindness are threaded throughout every teaching moment and interaction—and I know my children are better people for having had [Miss Meghan] as a teacher.
Meghan Hetherington is well known in her small community for delivering a quality preschool experience. She actively brings the community to her class and takes the children out into the community for regular field trips, and changes her whole program each year in response to the children's interests.
Philosophy of care
Guided by the principles of community, empathy, literacy, creativity, kindness, movement and laughter, Meghan prepares her students with not only the numeracy and literacy skills they will need to succeed academically, but also with the social and emotional skills necessary for true compassion and empathy. Hearts and brains!
Support of child development
- Emphasizes play-based activities to teach skills: squishing playdough and threading beads help children develop the hand strength and coordination they will need for printing, without the need for boring worksheets or stressful expectations.
- Designs open, bright rooms, with a menagerie of animals and numerous stations for children to explore; she adapts these as children's interests take learning in new directions, and to answer their questions (Will a pumpkin float or sink? How does fat help keep animals warm in the winter?) and demonstrate concepts.
- Meets individual needs of individual children: encouraged very gifted boy to read and present to the class; checked out every library book she could find on one child's obscure interest; had her father install essential bathroom fixtures when a student with unique physical challenges joined her class and ensured that same child was a full participant in all class activities, including the Terry Fox Run.
- Prepares her children for school and for life: Kindergarten teachers note that these young learners can independently put on their own winter gear, hold a pencil, write their name, line up and follow directions, recite their ABCs and count to 10 in both official languages—and be kind.
Involvement with parents, families and the community
- Welcomes the extended family with her open-door policy, inviting family members to share their talents, traditions and careers; older children lend a hand while their brother or sister accompanies their parents on a visit to the centre and is the "big kid" looking out for their even younger siblings.
- Connects children to the community to help them develop an innate sense of compassion, empathy and belonging: for example, she introduces Terry Fox and his legacy in an age-appropriate way and spearheads the preschool's annual run and fundraising, which outstrips efforts by other, much larger centres.
- Forges strong working relationships with various agencies that deliver extra supports for children with disabilities, including the Centre for Autism Services Alberta, GRIT (Getting Ready for Inclusion Today), Over the Rainbow and Community Options, to support the full inclusion of differently abled students.
Get in touch!
BriarPatch Community Preschool
100 A 50 Brentwood Boulevard
Sherwood Park AB T8A 2H5
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