By April Clark Honaker
Donna Walters was recently selected Teacher of the Year at Lincoln Parish Early Childhood Center. Walters is in her 28th year of teaching, and the majority of those years were spent in the pre-K classroom.
Walters earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Louisiana Tech University and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership last year from University of Louisiana in Monroe. Walters is also certified to teach Grades pre-K to 8.
Walters said she chose teaching as a career because she wanted a schedule that would align with her children’s schedule, but she’s always loved children and enjoys working with them.
“I love to watch them grow and develop,” she said.
Although Walters has experience teaching children in Grades pre-K to 5, the little kids are her favorite.
“They don’t have the hormones or attitudes,” she said. “They think you hung the moon, and they need hugs and to be loved.”
In teaching children this young, Walters believes their experience in the classroom can set the tone for the rest of their education.
“We want to make the kids successful and give them the foundation they need,” she said, “and making it fun helps set the foundation for their future.”
Walters wants to make sure that students in her class not only learn the necessary skills but also that they like coming to school. “If it’s not fun and exploratory,” she said, “we’ve missed our mark.”
According to Walters, pre-K teachers have a little more freedom when it comes to how they teach the curriculum.
“We’re more child directed,” she said.
Walters said she frequently takes note of what the children are interested in and finds ways to teach the required skills while appealing to their interests.
“You’re able to be more creative and adventurous in teaching this age,” she said, “and I like adventure. Every day is a new adventure with little kids.”
Walters definitely loves what she does but said it can be challenging at times.
“You’re multitasking and making decisions all day,” she said, “It requires a lot of juggling and critical thinking.”
She also said that because of COVID-19 many of the children are coming into school with fewer social skills than in previous years. Before she can focus on academics, she has to support the children in building basic social skills. Because pre-k involves a lot of hand-on and interactive learning, social skills are important.
Walters said, “Every child blooms at a different pace,” but she has the same expectations for each of them and believes every child can succeed if given the right foundation.