Lessons Learned in Kindergarten

A message from Dr. Kathleen Plinske, Campus President, Osceola and Lake Nona

A group of Valencia employees (Valerie Burks, Jenni Campbell, Celeste Henry, Melissa Pedone, Landon Shephard, and I) visited Kissimmee Elementary School on Thursday, May 30 with Junior Achievement to teach the “JA in a Day” curriculum to kindergarten classes. I sincerely believe that each of us was more nervous about teaching this class than we have ever been in our teaching careers! As we plan to incorporate Junior Achievement in the Leadership Track of the Seneff Honors College as an option to fulfill a portion of the service learning requirement, we wanted to experience firsthand what we were going to ask our students to do. In the kindergarten classrooms, we were responsible for teaching students the value of teamwork, the importance of saving money, and how to recognize pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

I think all of us found that the experience was incredibly exhausting, equally rewarding… and, once we began to infer the challenges that many of these students face outside of the classroom, heartbreaking. As an example, after one student shared how she had a piggy bank in her bedroom in which she saved money, another student responded, “I don’t have a bedroom.” The teachers later explained that many of the students enrolled at the school live in nearby apartments, and it’s not uncommon for a majority of the students in a classroom at the end of the year to be different students than those who started at the beginning of the year. Many students’ tenure at the school is shortened by the termination of an apartment lease, which forces the family to move to a different location, and the child to move to another school. Nevertheless, the students were incredibly enthusiastic, eager to learn, and after our visit, very excited about graduating as part of Valencia’s Class of 2027!

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