Each weekday morning for the last 40 years, Gloria Turner has greeted bleary-eyed children, ages 2 to 5, and their parents who are hesitant to leave but watchful of the clock that’s calling them to their offices.
Turner helps parents to separate and go off to work, reassuring them that their child will be fine. Then she calmly directs each child to an inviting area of her preschool classroom with colorful blocks, dress-up clothes, picture books or puzzles where they begin their day learning through play, inside and outdoors.
So far, more than 1,000 children have been lucky enough to spend their days and formative years as Turner’s student at the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center. Under her guidance, they’ve mastered essential preschool skills such as zipping up their coat, tying their shoes, and even putting away toys after they’ve played. In the last two decades as academic expectations have shifted to younger ages, Turner has incorporated many more
cognitive-oriented discovery activities teaching children pre-math, pre-science and language skills to prepare them to be ready to learn when they begin kindergarten.
No matter the subject, it’s each child’s wide-eyed, satisfied expression when they grasp a new idea that has kept.
"I never get tired of working with kids," Turner said. "I love seeing that look of wonder when they discover things or that big smile that comes over their face when they accomplish something."
She took a break from her classroom on Thursday, July 26, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. to welcome back three generations of students and their parents during a reception in honor of 40 years as a preschool teacher.
In lieu of gifts, Turner suggests a donation to the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, that provides a full-time, year-round early childhood education program, primarily children from area low-income, working families. Donations can be made online at wwc.fcmlcc.org or mailed to FCMLCC at 7230 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA 22043.