Noelle: The heart of a teacher, right? The gift that we have to catch those moments, and know how to walk through the conversation because even a five-year-old understands the importance of dignity. You talked about having a career change. Do you mind sharing what your first career was, and I'm also interested to know, are there any other educators when you made this career change. . . I know what drove you is you shared that you wanted to make a difference, but did you have any other teachers in your life before that.
Julia: Prior to teaching, I was in the hospitality industry where I did a lot of event planning and I worked with lots of local organizations and threw lots of parties and did a lot of fancy fun things, but there was something missing. I wasn't making the kind of impact that I make now on the people that I was working with. It was fun. It was quick, and it was on to the next event. And now, there are students that I taught my first year who still come back to see me. There are families that still reach out to me. Some of the letters that I received from the fifth graders, when they come back, when it's their last day, they might write a letter to me about their kindergarten experience. I had one student last year that wrote the loveliest letter about how she grew up in the school and how she slowly stopped coming to visit me as much because the demands of her academic career became greater and she had less time. But her and all of her girlfriends still thought about me all the time and the lessons that they learned and the friendships that they made in kindergarten.
Noelle: Took priority and that they have these goals, but that they still thought about you. I mean, how awesome to know that you are a topic of conversation in a gaggle of girls, right?
Julia: It’s exciting.
Noelle: Or any students.
Julia: In a positive way.
Noelle: Yes. So that was the impact you were looking for.
Julia: It really was, and I think that's why I wanted to become a teacher, and I'm glad that I did. Today, especially when we were talking about kindergarten, is more academic than it used to be. It definitely is. And you also have some very intense parents who want to push their child to be the best and be the top. I always sit back and I say they're not going to remember the reading group that we had or who was in it or what exactly we did in that lesson, but they are going to remember how they feel when they were in this room and they're going to remember how they felt when maybe we hit a topic that they loved. Our engineering unit in science is something that these kids get into. They are hands-on building stuff. And one of the first lessons in the unit, we talk about what is a scientist and what do they look like. And a lot of times they describe a man and then I hold this iPad up and I put it on the camera mode and I say, come here and I'm going to show you what a scientist looks like, but you can't tell anybody else until we're all done. And each one comes over and their face lights up because they're looking at themselves. They are the scientist, they are the engineer, and that is real life. They are going to be that person one day. They're going to be whatever great thing that they become. That's what's amazing about kindergarten is we plant the seeds for what they are gonna become. We spark interests. We turn on lights, we show them different paths that they might have not known exist. And then they follow them and they come back and they tell you about all the things that they did and the kids that come back to check to see how the room’s changed and do you still do this and do you still do that? And, oh, I remember this day. Yes, we still do all of that, but everybody takes something different from it.