From High School Volunteer to Having Her Own Classroom
Knowing she wanted to teach in Springfield, the college was able to arrange placements for Waltsak that put her in that environment—teaching in a preschool classroom at Indian Orchard and a first grade classroom at Glenwood Elementary. She recalls, “I liked that I was able to say what I wanted to get out of the program and they were supportive of that.”
Waltsak also worked as a substitute teacher in Springfield’s schools throughout college, and took a position as a long-term sub at Elias Brookings after she graduated in 2016. By August she had a permanent position at Boland Elementary. She is now in her third year teaching in an integrated preschool classroom that includes students with special needs and those who are typically developing.
Boland has proven to be an ideal school for Watsak. She prefers its approach to preschool education, which is based more in play than academics, and because there are ten preschool classrooms at the school, she has a large group of supportive colleagues.. “Everyone brings their own ideas to the table. We all share lessons and any materials that we have.”
Young kids are so fun—the things that they say, you can’t make up. I come home everyday with different stories to tell.Sarah Waltsak
Waltsak also enjoys the dynamics of the integrated preschool classroom, because it allows the students to begin their education as peers, without seeing any developmental differences among themselves. Waltsak’s classroom includes children with autism, children with developmental disabilities, children with cerebral palsy, and children with typical development. “Kids who are typically developing are spending time and making relationships with kids who are not typically developing,” she observes. “It’s a special experience to see that the kids are so young that they don't realize that anyone is different from them.”