Tonawanda News — On Wednesday, the fourth day of this year’s class, students both younger and older gathered in the area of the classroom dedicated to the preschool, with its brightly colored carpet decorated with letters and numbers, bin of blocks and toys, small tables with colored chairs, easels and cubbies with small coats and small backpacks.
Tonawanda High School senior Taylor DiRosa, who is coordinating the program this week, directed circle time as students talked about how they felt today (sad, happy, excited, tired, confused or silly — there were a lot of happys), sang a song about autumn leaves and played a game before dividing into small groups for craft activities.
DiRosa, who said she’s wanted to be an elementary-school teacher since she was 5, said she’s already learned a lot about dealing with the younger age group.
”You need a lot of patience,” she said. “It’s important, especially when they can’t communicate very well with you. You have to have a lot of patience, especially with this age group.”
Alexis Groves, a senior at Kenmore East High School who plans to be a pediatric nurse, said the experience has taught her quite a bit already.
”It’s definitely not easy, but it’s rewarding when you do it right,” she said.
Tracy Szafranek, an employee at the center whose son Tylor is one of the younger students in the class, said it’s rewarding for both sides.
”I have been so impressed with how the students are doing,” she said. “These are some of their first experiences with little ones. They have been so professional and helpful, in helping him adjust and me adjust. It’s so exciting to see what he’s experiencing.”
McKay said that the experience serves to illustrate many of the lessons the high school students are learning in the classroom, such as stages of childhood development and the reality of preschooler attention spans. But more importantly, it illustrates that sometimes they just have to deal with the unexpected.