MNPS Voices: Marlisa Smithson, Pre-k Teacher

MNPS Voices: Marlisa Smithson, Pre-k Teacher
Posted on 05/27/2020
Marlisa Smithson

Prekindergarten provides a safe space where MNPS's youngest learners can learn and discover with peers in a supportive developmentally appropriate academic environment. Marlisa Smithson, a Pre-K teacher at Carter-Lawrence Elementary School, sees it as a way to create a solid foundation for academic and social and emotional learning that addresses the needs of the whole child.

Marlisa Smithson

"It enables children to have more self-control; they can share, wait their turn, learn to deal with frustrations and how to solve conflict," Smithson said. "We can see a big difference from the first day of school to even two weeks after as they adjust to a school setting."

Smithson grew up around young children. Her grandmother ran a daycare where she helped out in her early teens. She was always amazed by the curiosity of children under five and loved watching them grasp concepts for the first time.

Smithson loves to see the growth. She remembers a student in particular who could not stay still or focus when he first arrived. In the next few weeks, he developed a natural knack for academics, a strength that would not have been discovered until kindergarten if not for his early learning experience.

"They are sponges at this age, so everything is hands-on and interactive; they catch on quicker that way," Smithson said. "We are even doing STEM work like the older students because it is activity-based."

With school out due to COVID-19, Smithson video-chatted with her students and provided at-home lesson plans and activities. This allowed the students to see their friends and interact with each other, developing their social skills. A student looking to cheer up her class spent one call drawing personalized pictures for each of her classmates, a gesture showing emotional maturity beyond her years.

Smithson works through quarantine by doing the same, maintaining connections with her friends and family on FaceTime and hosting virtual game nights. Before COVID-19, Smithson loved to host her loved ones in person: She held kickball and volleyball tournaments in her backyard, cooked or did anything to bring her family together.

With the 2019-20 school year now complete, MNPS is currently accepting Pre-K applications for 2020-21, which starts Aug. 4. Smithson encourages parents to explore the option for their children.

"Parents often worry about protecting play time and not pushing children at an early age. Our Pre-K offers a high-quality early childhood education program that offers a balance of structured learning, play time and social-emotional skills," Smithson said. "In our classrooms, children are introduced to the behaviors required to function successfully in a kindergarten classroom. It also provides nurturing relationships among children, teachers and parents."


Visit our Pre-K program page to learn more and apply.

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