Have you ever wondered where Mrs. Plunkett is when she is not in her office? Chances are she is in her “happy place,” as she calls MAA’s Preschool. Spend five minutes there and you too will immediately recognize why visiting is so much fun. This special spot is the fruit of almost three decades of hard work by a host of incredible educators, including the vision and dedication of MAA’s current preschool director, Mrs. Anne Marie Kelley.
Mrs. Kelley first arrived on campus to drop her own children off for school 26 years ago. “I loved the community spirit and social consciousness of the school,” she said smiling. While a parent at MAA, she was asked to join the Preschool program and has been a pillar of our school ever since.
Mrs. Kelley finds so much joy in teaching Preschool. She loves their energy and how dynamic the age group is. “Being flexible is really important,” she laughed. “Just because seven students want to and are ready to read, doesn’t mean all 27 are. We adapt and individualize whenever possible,” she said.
Mrs. Kelley focuses on building students’ confidence by giving them the opportunity to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them. “I want them to be confident enough to try new things without being afraid. If it doesn’t go well it’s not a failure, it’s just how we learn,” she said. An important component of the Mrs. Kelley’s flexible and confidence building curriculum is a balance between academics and play.
Choice time, as Mrs. Kelley calls it, gives students the opportunity to explore their own interests and find different outlets for their creative and intellectual energy. Science activities are a particularly fun combination of play and academics because Mrs. Kelley gets to do one of her favorite things, go outside and explore. “Science is a lot of fun! It’s so important to get the children outside and interacting with the natural world,” she said looking out the window at MAA’s tree-filled campus. “We are so lucky to be a part of the main school and have this beautiful campus!” Beyond the academics and play time, perhaps what brings Mrs. Kelley the most joy is sharing the importance of kindness and compassion with her students.
Preschool is all about building foundations and Mrs. Kelley cherishes the opportunity to help students learn empathy and form how they think about interacting with others. “It’s so important to talk about how we treat other people and the world,” Mrs. Kelley said.
All of us here at MAA are so lucky to have Mrs. Kelley as a partner and cornerstone of our community as we continue to strive to live out our school’s mission, to live not just for ourselves but for others.