St. Luke’s Pre-School Teacher of 35 Years Loves St. Luke’s

St. Luke's Staff WritersFaculty Spotlight, Japonica, Lower School, Spotlight

Ms. Gwin's 35 Years at St. Luke's.

s. Annie Gwin’s role as a K4 & K5 teacher has been an essential part of St. Luke’s history…..for 35 years and counting! So much is owed to her for the endless contributions, her lasting commitment, and the constant evolution of our well-known and incredible Early Childhood Department. Ms. Gwin’s goals go far beyond teaching as she provides top-notch learning experiences that are crucial factors for emotional, intellectual, cognitive, social, physical and intellectual development.

It was only 35-years ago that Ms. Gwin started her career teaching K4 half-day students at St. Luke’s, but quickly realized that she was not fully satisfied with the schedule. At that time, half-day classes were the only option because the school did not yet offer full-day classes for K4 students. It was then that Ms. Gwin decided to ask the Head of School if she could start a full-day K4 class the following year. She started her second year of teaching as the inaugural teacher of the first full-day K4 class. After 5-years in K4, the school added another K5 unit prompting her to move up a grade level. Overall, Ms. Gwin has taught a total of 28-years in K5 and 7-years in K4 at St. Luke’s!

Ms. Gwin has been a part of the St. Luke’s family for so long that she has even been blessed with opportunities to teach the children of her former students. She states, “It is fun to have a student when I have also taught the parents, as I love to see the similarities and differences in them. I have seen the mischievous side in many of them that I remember seeing in their parents as a child. I also love reconnecting with my former students after so many years”.

As the saying goes, “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” it’s safe to say Ms. Gwin has spread a lot of love throughout her numerous years of teaching. In turn, she has received many adoring gifts from her classes. One of her all-time favorite gifts was a photo book with pictures from that entire school year. The children signed it and included fingerprints for her to cherish forever.

With so much experience teaching K4 and K5, we consider Ms. Gwin to be a guru when it comes to knowing preschool books. It is difficult for her to pick one favorite as she has gathered more than 2000 books during her time at St. Luke’s. However, she does enjoy all Eric Carle Books, seasonal and holiday books, and nonfiction books while reading to her class. There is one book that stands out the most to her: Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. This book is near and dear to her heart because it reminds her of her own childhood as the characters in the story play on a rocky hill with sand and some old wooden boxes. It takes her back to the many ways that she used her imagination to play with her friends as they were growing up.

“Show and Tell” is a legendary day amongst all preschool students. The excitement of bringing something special to share with classmates is something the students look forward to all year. Over the years, Ms. Gwin has seen just about everything including many bizarre (but cute) Show and Tell items that her students pridefully brought into her classroom. If she had to pick one Show and Tell memory that was wild, it would be a pet rat brought in by the daughter of someone who worked at a pet store. She recalls, “I did hold it and pet it as I felt the need to set an example for the children.” EEK!

One of the biggest changes that Ms. Gwin has noticed in the field of education is that most parents now work as opposed to years ago. To adapt to the changing times, she has always made sure to help students as much as she can during the school day with academics, independence, and learning responsibilities while communicating with the parents of the class to keep them organized with school activities. She knows parents have a lot to do when they get home and can use all of the help they can get!

Believe it or not, there ARE things that have remained the same in education. Ms. Gwin believes that the many 'hands-on' learning opportunities for play, recess, field trips, and any activity that exposes children to something new will always be an important part of the early childhood experience. She holds these values close to her heart EVERY DAY!

In a recent article published in The Atlantic, it concluded that boys should start kindergarten a year later than girls to have the opportunity to mature a little more before starting school. Ms. Gwin’s opinion on this topic, “Every child needs to be looked at individually before making the decision when it is best for them to start school. I would agree that a child who is in the older range seems to adjust easier than some who may be in the younger range”. She has seen this pattern through the 35 different classes that have passed through her classroom and can attest that doing what is best for the child is the main goal.

If you ask a student that attended St. Luke’s Pre-K, we bet they will agree that Ms. Gwin is one of their favorite teachers that they’ve ever had (we’ve noticed this recurring theme with students of all ages!) Ms. Gwin absolutely loves that she still has a connection with many of her past students. Her goal has always been to help children love school, and if they love her too, then that makes it even better! Students never forget the hope, joy and love that was instilled in them during their formative preschool years.

As you can see, Ms. Gwin is one of those teachers that is difficult to part with and impossible to forget due to her special ability to connect learning with ways that inspire students to learn. It takes a big heart to shape little minds and we will forever thank Ms. Gwin for her dedication and loving commitment to our past, present, and future Wildcats!