In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re running a series of stories about educators around our company who have inspired generations of learners. In 2016, seven employees are celebrating 40 years or more with KinderCare Education. Today, we highlight one of those teachers: Veronica Ammon, a prekindergarten teacher at the Fremont KinderCare in Fremont, Calif., who will celebrate her 40th anniversary with the company in September.
What brought you to KinderCare?
I’ve always wanted to work with young children. When I was younger I was a nanny and I babysat.
I started at this same location in the toddler room in 1976. It was a Minischool then.
Why do you like the pre-k age group?
The children are so eager to learn, and it’s so much fun to teach them. All during the day you see them having these “lightbulb” moments. It’s so rewarding to see them at the end of the year, to see them graduate and see all the progress they have made. They love doing all kinds of different activities, and it’s so great to see all the different things they have grasped.
Looking back over the past 40 years of your KinderCare career, what’s a favorite moment of yours?
I have children who have graduated who have come back to share their experiences. One student went to India and wrote to me. Another student introduced me to her fiancé. Those moments are special. I’ve also loved watching the children of my fellow teachers grow up.
What keeps you coming back to work each day?
The children and the staff I work with. We have a very supportive staff here. It’s like coming to work with family. We support each other very well and attend each other’s weddings, birthdays, kids’ birthdays. It’s unique – you don’t find that in too many workplaces!
Have any of your former students returned to visit you? How does that make you feel?
One of my former students came by a month ago. He was graduating from high school and headed to San Diego State University. It’s fun when they remember you. Sometimes you think they forget all about you. It makes it all worthwhile.
What’s changed in the early childhood education field since you began your career here?
All of the programs I’ve taught through the years have been unique and different. With some of the programs I’m learning something new too. The curriculum now is very unique. It gives children the opportunity to share information, and a lot of the activities are hands-on. I like that we switch the theme every two weeks. Right now we’re working on a picnic theme – the children are learning how to set the table. Next week we’ll focus on wild animals. I’ve always enjoyed the curriculum – I’ve never taught a program I didn’t like.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I’ve learned to be patient with people and not make quick judgments. I’ve learned to listen intently to people and not to judge a book by its cover.
What advice would you give your younger self on your first day at KinderCare?
I would tell myself to go with the flow. I have done so many different things throughout the years, but I have realized that as long as I am working with kids, it doesn’t matter.
I don’t see an end to my teaching career anytime soon. I’m still enjoying it. As long as you’re passionate and you enjoy something, stay as long as you can. That’s how I look at it.