Stephanie Hart is making an impact on the Marin community, one child at a time.
A second-time volunteer at Community Action Marin, Stephanie previously worked for the Head Start program before the agency aligned state and federal funding to strengthen outcomes for children and families. She had been going through a rough time personally and decided that volunteering and giving back would support her well-being. At that point in time, she had a successful career as a sales representative, selling educational toys.
When she began volunteering, Stephanie already knew that she wanted to volunteer with children. She had been volunteering in an 18-month program with new mothers experiencing postpartum depression and especially loved working with the babies. Once she began volunteering at Community Action Marin, as she put it, “I took to it like a duck to water,” and at that point, she decided to go back to school. She attended The College of Marin to earn her Early Childhood Education Certificate.
Said Stephanie, “Community Action Marin was the inspiration, and I never looked back. It’s all about the kids. They loved me and I loved them.”
Stephanie began co-teaching right out of school seven years ago and has spent the last three years as an educator at The Ross Preschool, learning how to teach critical thinking and getting mentorship. Once her husband retired, Stephanie decided to open her schedule a bit more and continued subbing at the school. She also started volunteering at a Community Action Marin’s site in Novato. She said the work she does now once a week at the Hamilton Childcare Center is closest to her heart:
“To be a successful educator, it is more than liking kids. Children fascinate me. I could watch them playing for a very long time. I love to model vocabulary to little ones, even the Spanish-only speakers who are learning English and have them say it back. I do it with every activity.”
Stephanie is very proud of the relationship she has with the kids at Hamilton. And the teachers really appreciate her being there to support classroom activities.
Whenever she’s there, Stephanie does some amazing projects with the children. She has taught the children the joy she experienced when she was young with rock flipping. “At Hamilton,” she explained, “there is a fence with holes dotted alongside it and lots of rocks. By exploring, the preschoolers discovered there were gophers under there!”
She also taught the students about the life cycle of the Darkling Beetle. Learning that mealworms are the first stage of life for these creatures, children filled a tank with oatmeal for food. Stephanie prepared a chart showing how the beetles will pupate and evolve. The children watched and made predictions as the process unfolded.
During the summer, the sandbox became an area for exploration and teaching about early math. When the children mixed the sand with water in different sized bowls to make “soup,” they observed how the soup became thinner or thicker depending on how much water and sand had been added to the mixture. The activity was quite popular, so lots of children participated. Stephanie said that she could see the wheels turning in their little heads and just loved it.
On behalf of the entire team, and the children and families at Hamilton, Stephanie, thank you for all you give as a beloved volunteer!