Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd
For many, pursuing a graduate degree in education is a stepping-stone towards teaching at the collegiate level. The extra level of education is important for teaching people how to teach and as a marker of experience in the field of education. However, for Laura Jane Howald, providing the quality of education that a master’s degree can give was just as important for teaching preschool kids.
After working with New York children with hearing implants, Howald felt that furthering her education was important for learning how to serve children better even though the degree was not required for her job. She attended UNC Greensboro and obtained her master’s degree, putting her passion for early childhood education on display. She stayed in North Carolina, and has taught for over a decade there. It is commitment like this that has led to Howald being awarded the Teacher of the Year Award from Asheville City Schools.
Howald jokes that she has had 115 children, treating every one of the students that has come through her classroom like one of her own kids. Having spent the last 22 years teaching in preschool classrooms or in supervisory roles over kids, she has lost none of her passion. Her 14 current students get just as much enthusiasm from Howald as the last 101.
Howald has stated that she is excited to receive the award because it is an opportunity to highlight the importance of early care and education. She says that kindergarten teachers see a difference in kids who come from preschools, and giving kids an early start helps to provide a boost into a successful education.
Howald hopes that her award will serve as an example for other teachers in Asheville and across the state of North Carolina that early childhood education is a vital part of a healthy and productive life.