With 4 full time teachers and 20 children, this is the classroom for our oldest children. This is the year before kindergarten and children of this age are beginning to figure out friendships and begin to have stronger sense of who they are, what they want to do and how they will accomplish it. They play cooperatively most of the time, and of course run into many disagreements and problems. This is all part of learning but with practice, the Rainbows learn how to negotiate with each other to figure out how to take turns, to listen to others’ point of view, and come together as a team to create a block structure, get the marble to go down the right chutes, etc. Their dramatic play scenarios are much more detailed, bringing in elements of their lives as they create stores, go to work, and take on roles. Their art becomes more detailed as their fine motor skills develop, and most children will be interested in writing their name and others’ names. Exclusion and inclusion are areas on which they work throughout the year – teachers help children to include others while allowing children the freedom to choose with whom they wish to play or which activities to participate in. Creating a strong sense of community is important, and teachers work on creating this with the children at the beginning of the year, continuing throughout the year. At the same time, children of this age are learning that they can learn from other children and request help from other children. Finally, children of this age love to figure out their place in the world and want to know about so many things!
Ester Kiper has 25 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Universidade Sao Marcos in Sao Paulo, Brasil. She also has experience working with children with special needs and as a child therapist in Brasil.
She says: “Working at TCS brings me immense joy for several reasons. First, witnessing the positive impact I can make in the lives of children is incredibly fulfilling. Observing their growth is a rewarding experience. One of the most gratifying aspects of teaching here is fostering creativity. The imaginative and innovative ideas that children bring to the classroom are truly inspiring. Their unique perspectives contribute to a vibrant learning environment. Engaging in meaningful conversations with the children is a constant source of inspiration. Their curiosity, enthusiasm, and the exchanges we share create a rich and fulfilling teaching experience. In essence, the journey at TCS allows me to contribute to the development of these young minds and witness the transformation throughout the school year. It’s a privilege to be part of their learning adventure.”
Cindy Turcios has 7 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Family Science.
She appreciates that Takoma Children’s School is “a place that gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests and guide their learning through play and exploration.”
Darnica Crawford has 27 years of teaching experience (13 at TCS!) and has studied at Montgomery College and Phoenix University. She previously worked in criminal justice. She enjoys music, cooking, designing shoes and clothes, writing poetry, doing standup comedy, and traveling.
She says that: “My passion for children is understanding and getting on their level. My number one key is you must have the patience and the understanding to become a successful teacher.”
Amy Beam has 40+ years of teaching experience and has studied at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College, and Goddard College. She was the 2015 recipient of the Margaret O’Neill Early Childhood Nature Educator Award and was featured in a PBS documentary Mother Nature’s Child. She is Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Region Association of Forest And Nature Schools (ERAFANS) and is an instructor for Nature Teacher Certification courses and the Art of Mentoring.
She says: “I love that the families are fully engaged with the school, that the experienced staff demonstrates a commitment to the best interests of each child, and especially I love that the children are joyful, exuberant and resilient. The culture of this school is warm and welcoming and provides a wonderful environment for children, their families, the staff and the broader Takoma Park community. The Reggio play-based curriculum continually offers exciting enrichment for all of us!”