Friday, July 19, 2013

Welcome to Starr - Duke's new front office presence

Starr Williams joined The Little School at Duke on July 8th.  She will likely be the first person you see when you come by the main office in the morning.  Feel free to stop in and introduce yourself when you see her.  She loves the tight-knit community feeling of the Duke Little School campus, as well as how fast-paced and busy each day is.  In addition to helping Mary out with school administration, she spends half of each day in classrooms as a floater.  Of her new role at TLS Duke, Starr commented “I love the combination of learning how the school runs and still being able to connect with the children - I feel like this job is the perfect fit for me.  It’s also really exciting being a part of growing a school community.”

How did you find your way to TLS?   
My friend and former co-worker, Amanda, started working at the Hillsborough campus and she would always talk about how the administrative staff seemed to really care about their employees. She often spoke of how it was such a positive work environment - different and better than other places she had worked. She loved the fact that if the children didn’t seem to be interested in the “topic” of the week, you were allowed to scrap that lesson plan and follow the children’s interests.   This approach, which I have since learned is called ‘Reggio’,  allows you to focus more on the children and not on some detailed curriculum you have to adhere to even when children lose interest. Then there was talk of this “Magic Tree” and “Magic Mountain” - our favorite destinations in the woods nearby our Hillsborough school. It was Amanda who suggested that I apply at The Little School and I did. I came for the interview and fell in love with the school. I had never seen a preschool that looked like this -- there were lofts in the classrooms and the play spaces were amazing. I really liked  the fact that the children were able to get all dirty. Did I mention they had a chef?...Love it!

What do you value most or hold most dear at TLS?
I value the sense of community here. When I first joined The Little School community I started out as a floater. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel like part of the team. Being the new person is never easy. I had never heard of Reggio before starting here so I had a lot of questions. The teachers taught me about Reggio through their interactions with the children and answering my many questions. Also, there are always trainings made available to us. What I hold most dear is the bonds and relationships I have formed with the children, staff, and parents.

What is your educational approach? How do you find children learn best?
I find children learn best through play. For example, through interactions with their friends during play children are learning to share, developing patience when they have to wait for a friend to finish with a toy, and learning valuable social skills. They are learning a lot of key skills and not even realizing it. Also, by making learning interesting and fun by including it in what they already love to do, which is playing, I feel that the children are more likely to want to learn.

What was the most interesting trip you have taken?
The most interesting trip I have taken was to Fraser Colorado for the Captivating Retreat in 2005. This was the first trip that I had taken without family; it was just me and friends from school. The retreat was high up on a mountain. We were so high up it seemed like we could reach up and touch the clouds.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
If I could be a superhero I would want my superpowers to be healing. There are so many sick men, women and children out there who need a healing touch.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. With whom would it be?
Mother Teresa.

 If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
No matter how many times you fall, get right back up again. This piece of advice is something you could live by for the rest of your life.

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
I would rather be a joyful simpleton. My motto is “There is beauty in simplicity.” Whether it’s a beautiful sky, sparkles on the road that shines when the sun hits it, sun showers, a child’s laughter, or a really old house that is falling apart. Those are the types of things that make me smile. You would be amazed at all the beautiful things you could see if you would just stop and pause for a moment to take it all in.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I would wear a tutu every day and not only at work.

What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?
“Anyway” by Martina McBride

What is your favorite children’s book?
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss

If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
I would be a photographer or a principal ballet dancer at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

What words do you live by?
In a world where you could be anything…Be Yourself.

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