Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deborah Stewart: Community Builder

I can't remember exactly where I came across early childhood educator Deborah Stewart . . . Oh, who am I kidding, she found me just like she has reached out to connect with thousands of other bloggers who work with young children. You can sometimes feel like you're out on an island in this profession. So many of us work in small preschools where we are the only teacher. Many of us are running our schools or day care centers out of our homes. Sure, we get to work closely with parents -- that's the nature of early childhood education -- but when it comes of professional colleagues we often have to make a special effort to connect.

Deborah is one of those rare, extraordinary people who seem to go through life with her arms outstretched, drawing everyone to her, welcoming them into her world. In a very short time, I've come to consider her a friend and ally. I know I can rely on her for ideas, support and sympathy, but what I love most about knowing her is that she is one of the most dynamic and open-minded community builders I have ever encountered. And if you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that this is about the highest praise I can give a person.  Through her two blogs (Excellence In Early Childhood Education and Little Fingers That Play) her website (Teach Preschool), and rapidly growing Facebook fan page, she has built an enthusiastic, welcoming online community of teachers and parents, one that connects people from around the world.

I was flattered beyond belief when Deborah asked to interview me about building relationships with parents as part of her work toward her masters degree, a credential she's just one class away from completing. Go Deborah! And thanks for your incredible, inclusive efforts on behalf of all of us who work with young children.

If you're interested in reading the interview it's right here.

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Scott said...

Yay, Deborah! And yay, Tom!

I'm so glad that I could get "connected" with early childhood leaders like each of you. Both of you give me inspiration, encouragement, and sometimes just the laugh I needed.

Deborah Stewart said...

Scott and Tom - Two of my favorite bloggers/friends right here together this morning! Tom, I was so surprised to see my name on your post this morning, what a pleasure to find!

Normally, I would have interviewed someone in my local area for the paper but blogging has changed the early childhood world. It has opened doors to so many new people with gifts and talents beyond measure. I am most blessed!

And as we all know, a real community takes everyone to care and share:)

jenny said...

Deborah and Tom - you guys were the first two people that "talked" to me when I started blogging a couple of months ago. I was so excited to actually get COMMENTS on my new blog, especially from two blogs that I actually read and found incredibly useful and inspiring.

And you are so right Tom - teaching can feel like you are on an island - thats the very reason I first started blogging.

I look forward every morning to sitting down and going through all the blogs I read and my file of ideas is growing by the minute.

Noah said...

I have to echo everything said - all of you are so inspiring! Tom - thank you for your act of recognizing Deborah, Scott and jenny - ditto totally, Deborah - your warmth, encouragement and openness are making huge waves in the lives you touch.
Thank you all so very much.

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Teacher Tom, the past few months I have been following you thanks to Miss Deborah. Both of you are superb examples of building community. Deborah totally inspired me to start making up my own songs with my 3-year-old, and I actually sent the song to her! I felt really gutsy making that move, but I think it's important to let people know that you have been touched by something they have said or done.

Teacher Tom, you have such a great gift to write and have such profound insights. I had my non-children friends(you know friends that do not have kids of their own) read some of your posts because your reflections are so right on, and they loved it!

Anyways, I'm so happy to be following both of you and read about your unique contributions that you make daily to individuals everywhere!

ps. If I lived in Seattle I would get River's name on the long waiting list you have.

Launa Hall said...

Ditto! So well said! I LOVE reading Deborah's blogs, and her always insightful comments on my blog. Thank you both for this great interview!

Maria Wynne - Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone said...

I am so happy and greatful to have come across Deborah and Tom. I look forward to reading your blogs. I might not have the time to repond daily but you guys really make my day!

Thank you!!

Unknown said...

You are so right! I love the community we all have going on. Because I work in a small school, I don't get to share with other teachers as often as I'd like.

I love that it is always a safe environment to share, even with opposing views. There is never a concern that I will be belittled, criticized or ridiculed for offering my viewpoint. Deborah has made me feel so welcome at Teach Preschool that, in a short time, it feels like "home". Via her posts, she has introduced me to some truly extraordinary educators---and you certainly are at the TOP of that list! I truly value the friendships and community that Deborah and some of her top supporters foster. Thank you both from the depths of my heart! <3

Unknown said...

I can't wait to read your interview. You inspire me. Thank you for opening my eyes to many different ideas : ) I am thankful for you.