Learning a two-way street for preschool teacher

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Calvary Christian preschool teacher Mary Hensley said she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was in the second grade.

“I came from an impoverished background,” Hensley said. “Teachers helped me to succeed.”

She said one instance in particular that inspired her to share knowledge with students was in fourth grade when a teacher read her class the story “Stone Soup.”

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In the story, a group of hungry travelers convince the people of a village to each add one small ingredient to a pot of soup so that everyone can have a healthy, filling meal.

“Every year I read that story to my students, and we all make stone soup together.”

Hensley said she has worked with preschool through first-grade students during her time as a teacher, and she said she enjoys working with young children.

“I’m on their level,” Hensley said. “I like to be silly and I can relate to them. I also sing all the time.”

She said her students are like a family, each of them understanding and truthful to each other and her.

“They are so forgiving,” she said. “It’s good to be around children. They keep you grounded and help you be the person you’re supposed to be. I’ve learned as much from them as they have from me.”

Hensley added the whole class is like a family. When a student or family is having a hard time, the rest of the class comes together to help in whatever way they can.

Hensley was hired at Calvary Christian when the school was first started, and said she shared a small office-sized room with 10 students at that time. She took a break from teaching after about 10 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. After beating her cancer and recovering, Hensley slowly returned to teaching, first as an assistant at Shearer Elementary and then returning full-time to Calvary Christian.

“I just feel like God called me to be a teacher,” she said.

She said her faith has been very important to her as a teacher, but that it has also taught her to seek perspective and understanding when working with people who don’t believe exactly the same way she does.

In the end, Hensley said Calvary Christian’s success is a testament to how the students and staff at the school come together as a family to support one another.

“We have all grown so much,” she said.