Readers are Leaders | Meet Glenshire Elementary’s principal Kathleen Gauthier
Special to the Sun
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kathleen Gauthier, principal of Glenshire Elementary School, is featured in this week’s Readers Are Leaders series. To read past interviews with leaders who are readers, visit http://www.tahoedailytribune.com, search “Readers.”
Readers Are Leaders is a school readiness initiative of First Five Nevada County, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Tahoe Truckee Reads, which supports the goal of improved third-grade reading proficiency of young children in the community. This is the fifth in a series of interviews about the impact of reading in the lives and careers of local leaders along with hands-on strategies to boost pre-k literacy.
Q: Is reading important in your life/career? How so?
A: My profession requires extensive reading on all kinds of topics. This is not hard for me because I love to read. At school we foster love of reading above all else because when we enjoy reading the rest is much easier.
Q: What is your favorite children’s book — past or present?
A: I still remember reading a biography about Nurse Clara Barton set during the Civil War. As a second grader I found it inspiring and I still think about its lessons 55 years later. I also I love “Harold and the Purple Crayon” books.
Q: If you were snowed in at a backcountry hut, what reading material would you want to have with you?
A: Tons and tons, an e-reader with a power source would work.
Q: Where is your favorite place to read/when is your favorite time to read?
A: Most of my reading I do in bed before I fall asleep, in the morning before I get up, and if I wake up in the middle of the night. I love reading to my grandkids, which we usually do in bed together also.
Q: What is your favorite character in a book and why?
A: I enjoy reading about characters that survive against all odds.
REAL WORLD STORIES
While storybooks with fictional characters may come to mind most often when considering books for young children, it is important to remember the impact of real life stories on their minds and imaginations.
Kathleen Gauthier speaks of the lasting impact of reading a biography as a child about American heroine, Nurse Clara Barton. In looking at Clara Barton’s early years, we find that she was extremely timid and made only one friend in her childhood.
Her parents sent her away to school to socialize her but before too long, the school sent her back home again to regain her health after what turned out to be a traumatic, emotional experience.
How did this extremely fearful young girl grow up to teach school, to become the first woman to hold a government job in the U.S., to tend to soldiers on the front lines of the Civil War, and to become the founder of the American Red Cross?
It is easy to see how riveting this story would be to a child — or an adult!
Clara Barton overcame incredibly difficult personal obstacles to prevail against the odds.
In addition to reading about real people, children are fascinated with all aspects of the world around them — including extinct and invisible worlds: dinosaurs, deep-sea life, and outer space. Preschoolers have so much interest and focus they can master the names of 20+ multi-syllabic dinosaur names that adults often have trouble keeping up with. They know the names of all kinds of heavy equipment, racing and antique cars, insects and exotic animals.
They also like to know how things work, i.e., how does an airplane get off the ground? Why do some things float? Preschoolers have the capacity to read book after book about one topic until parents need to head to a bookstore or library in a distant town to find more material.
Exposing preschool children to a variety of reading material and following their lead will help you discover areas of interest unique to your child. Reading about what interests them will expand their vocabularies and knowledge and create ongoing joy in reading. Using the book as a prompt for more conversation will stimulate critical thinking — all of these are important components to school readiness and future success.
Ruth Jackson Hall is the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District early learning coordinator.