Dahle helps ensure every child’s experience is positive
WELCOME ALL — Darlyne Dahle, left, and Marilyn Dobberstein invite families with preschool age children to sign up for Panther Preschool. Dahle has taught preschool at NRHEG since 1993. (Star Eagle photo by Jessica Lutgens)
By JESSICA LUTGENS
For those of you with young children about to be of preschool age, or anyone who is new to the NRHEG school district, now is the time to register for the 2014-2015 school year. With some changes to the preschool program this year, we talked with Darlyne Dahle, NRHEG preschool teacher and ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) Childhood Instructor, and Marilyn Dobberstein, Director of Community Education, ECFE and School Readiness, to learn a little more about the program and what parents and children can expect at NRHEG.
Panther Preschool classes are taught by licensed Early Childhood Teachers, certified through the State of Minnesota in Early Childhood, whose primary goal is “to provide a positive learning experience for your child in an environment that inspires exploration, experimentation, and discovery,” with an ultimate goal of preparing children for kindergarten in the NRHEG school district. They believe a good self-image is vital to a child’s development, growth, and independence, and children will be encouraged to acquire self-help skills, make good choices, and interact in a positive manner. NRHEG is also a MN Reading Corps site and has a strong literacy base.
Darlyne Dahle has been a preschool teacher at NRHEG for 21 years this fall, her first year in 1993 (and, ironically, was this journalist’s preschool teacher once upon a time; Dobberstein was also one of my teachers!). She currently lives in Ellendale with her husband Ed; they have three children – Emily, Matt and Gabe. Originally from Mabel, MN, Dahle attended Mabel-Canton High School before receiving her bachelor of science in teaching at Winona State University.
She actually started her college career as an accounting major, but changed her mind in her sophomore year, explaining that teaching just seemed like the right thing for her to do.
“I chose preschool because I really enjoy the younger children,” Dahle said. “Their innocence and excitement for life is so much fun to be around. They make me smile every day — what could be better?”
More often than not, a child’s preschool teacher is their first teacher outside of their family, making them a very influential person in that child’s life. As that person for our community, Dahle’s wish is to help children and families have a positive feeling about school, and so far she’s done a great job. Although some of us might get a headache just thinking about being around that many small children every day, Dahle genuinely enjoys what she does.
A typical day in her classroom, Dahle described, starts out with an arrival time in which children can have time to explore the classroom and engage in activities that have been set up for them. Then is a group time, where they have a meeting time – doing the calendar, weather, helpers, sharing, etc. After that, SMART activities take place, which involve movement paired with brain development. They always have a snack and read a story; after the story is either small or large group time, which can consist of many different activities, where they work on readiness skills in all areas.
“We integrate our learning in every possible minute of our day,” she said, “even when lining up to the bathroom! We use songs, games and hands-on activities to expose children to all areas of learning.”
In addition, they also try to take field trips to expose children to the community. And, Dahle added, in doing all these things, they have a lot of fun.
“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “Some days, I may be having a bad day or have something else bothering me, and it always amazes me how those little ones know just the right thing to say or do to make my day so much better!”
Dahle also expressed her gratitude for the help of Michelle Thiele as a paraprofessional in the preschool classroom, “She is an integral part of what happens in our room. She does an outstanding job with the children, and I know I couldn’t function without her!”
In a preschool classroom, no two days are the same, and in order for things to run as smoothly as possible, she explained that one needs to be flexible and willing to change things “midway.” Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Dahle knows what a pleasant, friendly, and kind person she is; she says she strives for these traits because that is what everyone deserves, especially a child.
“Children should be surrounded by people with these qualities, and I try to hold myself to that standard,” she explained. “I know that I am far from perfect, but I try to live by the ‘Golden Rule’ and hope that my influence will help children to strive for the same.” Imagine how great the world would be if everyone lived by the same set of values.
New to the program this year, in addition to the regular two-day per week schedule, an optional third day will be available on Wednesdays for 4- and 5-year-old classes. In addition, classes for 3-year-olds will now take place two days per week (previously one day/week). At Panther Preschool, some things children will experience include circle time (music, calendar, weather, etc.), learning centers (reading, computer, math, science, art, dramatic play), discovery, field trips, and gym and outside playground time.
“My hope is that parents and children can expect to feel welcome and genuinely cared for while in our classroom,” said Dahle.
Registration for the 2014-2015 NRHEG school year is open now, and Dobberstein stressed that the sooner you register, the better, as certain classes will fill quickly. In order to be enrolled, children must be 3 or 4 years of age on or before September 1, 2014; 5-year-olds are welcome if not yet enrolled in kindergarten.
To register, call Marilyn Dobberstein at 507-417-2667 or Darlyne Dahle at 507-417-2635 and request a form to be sent to them, or visit the school and pick one up. NRHEG preschool has two locations: New Richland, 306 Ash Ave. S (NRHEG High School), and Ellendale, 600 School St. (NRHEG Elementary); both sites have a room designated for Panther Preschool and ECFE Classes.
NRHEG Schools, New Richland and Ellendale sites, are also the recipient of a 4 Star Parent Aware Rating by the MN Department of Human Services; the highest possible rating.