Toni McDonnell

Group Teacher, Kindergarten

BA, Elementary Education, Temple University

tonim@miquon.org

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I will never forget the first time I ventured onto Miquon’s campus. It was a crisp Saturday afternoon in October ’82. The sugar maples were ablaze with brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. A lone turkey vulture circled overhead. The creek babbled merrily as it slid over the rocks. A chipmunk darted through a garden, across the gravel path, and into a crevice near a stand of bamboo. I stood silently taking it all in. I imagined my young children playing and learning in this beautiful place. I knew that I had to learn more about The Miquon School.

So. I did. I learned that Miquon’s philosophy clearly resonated with my personal beliefs about education. I learned that my children would be known and valued for who they were. They would be welcomed into a vibrant and caring community. They would be given ample opportunities to observe and wonder, work and play, interact with others and develop strong interpersonal relationships … and in doing so, they would continue to develop as engaged and responsible advocates for their own learning.

Of course, my children did join the Miquon learning community … and in 1987, so did I. I have worked in a variety of capacities over the years: in the After School Program as well as Morning Care, as a tutor and “after camp” assistant at Miquon Camp, and as an assistant teacher, co-teacher, and group teacher. As a classroom teacher, I have enjoyed the privilege of working and playing with our youngest students (Nursery-Second Grade).

My “home” for many years now has been Kindergarten. My kindergartners (like all children) strive to make sense of the world around them. They learn best by doing — by acting on their environment. My happy task is to design and sustain an environment which allows them to pursue their own work. While employing their fertile minds, vivid imaginations, and insatiable curiosity as they play/work, my kindergartners create their learning each and every day.

How fortunate I am…to have developed my life’s work by engaging in the joyful process of children’s play!