In 2021-2022, we will using our Staff Spotlights to learn more about individual staff, their inspirations, and their incredible resilience in adapting to Outdoor Learning in a pandemic.
Spotlight on Krista Bowman
Krista is a teacher in the Green Room.
How did you discover Playschool?
For graduate school I attended West Chester University and earned a certificate in Education for Sustainability. For my thematic concern, I studied the health benefits of spending time in nature, as well as the benefits of nature-based and play-based education. During this time, I learned about a variety of school structures and systems, and spent time touring different schools in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
One of the schools I toured was Playschool, and, of course, I fell in love instantly! The educational philosophy, the importance of community — learning and growing together, and supporting one another — and the ability to be immersed in nature are all aspects that aligned with my own teaching philosophy. Three questions immediately entered my mind: 1) How quickly can I get my children enrolled here?! 2) Are they hiring?! 3) Can we extend this program all the way through 12th grade?!
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I had a kindergarten teacher named Mrs. Lundquist. She made learning so much fun! She was also patient, loving, kind, and nurturing. I loved being at school and I remember wanting to be just like her when I grew up. Throughout my different careers as a teacher, one thing always remained constant and that is my desire to spark a love of learning for my students; most importantly, the desire and ability to learn about themselves, each other, and their environment.
What is your favorite aspect of your work in the Green Room?
I absolutely love getting to know the students and their families. It is such an honor to get to know each one of my students on a personal level: learning what makes them tick, what they like, what they don’t like, and what they enjoy learning about. They are amazing! Another favorite aspect is witnessing the students’ growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. It is beautiful to watch the development of their confidence, self-awareness, talents and abilities, and independence.
What do you love the most about Playschool's outdoor program?
I love that the students have the opportunity to engage in risky play. Through risky play, the students learn about body awareness — how their body moves, feels, responds and works. They also learn what feels safe to them and what does not. They have the opportunity to practice saying “yes” to things and also saying “no.” They are exercising their creativity, autonomy, imagination, critical thinking skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills. It is a chance for the students to develop their self-regulation skills as well as a sense of self-expression.
What fun things are the children in your classroom learning about right now?
The students in our classroom really enjoy creating things out of anything and everything, so we provide them with a constant flow of materials to experiment with, such as tape, ribbon, paper towel rolls, popsicle sticks, wood, bamboo, plants, flowers, seed pods, pinecones, paint, cardboard, cut up tree branches, chalk, fabric, and the list goes on. It is so fun to see what they create! Our students also love Spanish class with Miss Rebeca and music class with Miss Emily!
An important part of what the students learn in our classroom is how to express themselves clearly. We help them to identify their feelings, needs, wants and ideas and model the language they can use to communicate these things to their peers and to adults. Practicing these skills assists the students in being capable of overcoming obstacles, coping with problems, accomplishing goals, and existing within a community. It is incredible to see the students expand their self-confidence, resilience, and empowerment in this way.
What are your favorite spring activities?
Some of my favorite activities are sitting by the lake at Marsh Creek State Park and wandering through the woods. I also enjoy going on walks with my children where we play “I Spy” and admire the signs of springtime. Each day there are new blooms, new buds, and new colors to discover. There is a buzzing of change, newness, transition and aliveness. It is such an exciting time of year!
Which children's books are your favorites?
I enjoy books that help children to learn about mindfulness practices, nature, feelings, and the power to choose. The Fun with Nature Take-Along Guide and Fandex Family Field Guides are great! Some of my favorite children’s authors are Jon J. Muth, Andrea Beaty, Ganit and Adir Levy, Susan Verde, and Christiane Engel.
What is your favorite food?
I love anything that Miss Alyssa and our students make on Cooking Day! Yum! I also enjoy a salad loaded with fresh vegetables and fruits. The more colors, the better!
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is purple.
What is your favorite animal?
I love birds, especially birds of prey. I get so excited when we spot vultures, bald eagles, hawks and crows flying over our play yard. One day, all of those birds were flying overhead at the same time! It was magnificent! The songbirds and woodpeckers are fabulous too!