In 2021, 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 Susan Kettelle
Susan is a teacher in the Yellow Room.
How did you discover Playschool?
My husband, John came to playschool in the ’60s. When John and I were newly married we visited Bazaar. I’ll never forget as we walked in and approached Miss Betty, whom John had not seen in many, many years. She said, “Hello, John! So nice to see you!” It was astounding to me that she recognized and remembered John after so long. I knew right then that this school was a special place. She also suggested that we sign up our child, who was at that time an infant, for registration as soon as possible due to a waiting list. It was then I knew Playschool must be a magical place — I actually felt it in the air.
Our two children, now in college, attended Playschool. My Mother-in-Law has fond memories of chairing League and Bazaar and my Father-in-law was on the board. What a blessing to marry into a family that had decades of Playschool history that my husband and I we were able to pass on to our children.
Why did you decide to be a teacher?
Becoming a parent and part of the Playschool community in 2004, I found a real passion for being with the youngest of children on a routine basis at Playschool. After volunteering for many years in what was then called, “The Two’s” (now “The Yellow Nest”), I was asked by the teaching team and director if I would like to join staff and teach along with Mary Jo Horwitz in The Two’s. That was 14 years ago. I believe teaching chose me.
What is your favorite aspect of your work in the Yellow Nest?
I truly love the terrific two’s and wondrous three-year-olds. This age group is full of amazement and so much fun. Being reminded daily to be literal and present in the world of a toddler is a blessing. Some of the best belly laughs have been around the innocence and developing mind of the toddler. I highly recommend hanging with 14 three-year-olds on a daily basis! They help you appreciate life.
What do you love the most about Playschool's outdoor program?
I think what I love most about the outdoor program is how reminiscent it is to me and my youth. I have such wonderful memories of playing outside in nature. I remember playing with friends, inventing games, climbing on rocks and logs, using branches and feeling the sunshine. I also remember the smells of a rainy day and fun with puddles and mud. The outdoors is good for the mind, body and soul.
How can parents of incoming Yellow Nesters best prepare their kids for school?
Get ready to write this down on how to best prepare your child … there’s nothing to do except tell them to look forward to a lot of fun and love as they play and meet new friends.
As adults we set expectations that often are not reasonable in the mind of a toddler. Toddlers are in the moment and just want to explore and play. When we just let this happen organically, it can empower a child in so many avenues of their little lives. The Yellow Nest is a wonderful place to play and meet new friends.
What are your favorite winter activities?
My favorite winter activity would be a good old fashion snowstorm. The beauty and silence of a big storm always amazes me and, believe it or not, I like to shovel snow! I also like to vacuum … so it must have something to do with seeing results and making patterns! Pretty silly, huh?
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
More joy. A lot has happened in my life in the last two years, along with everyone else. However, I have learned to be a little more resilient, to make the best out of very hard situations, and know that when you are in the presence of a child the cares of this world are not that big anymore.
Do you have any favorite children's books?
I have several but, ironically and before The Two’s was renamed to The Yellow Nest, The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman has always been my favorite. It’s the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bird’s search for a ‘better’ nest that leads them to some unusual and peculiar spots, ultimately bringing them back to their original nest. A story of true contentment.