WARREN Preschool teachers give kids the basics

Both teachers speak of foundations and how important they are to children.
WARREN -- Inside the bright-pink house on North Park Avenue, a piano tinkles an accompaniment to the group of 4-year-olds energetically practicing their favorite song.
Mary Catherine Lapmardo stands at the front of the class, her arms waving the beats.
The song has to be ready in time for graduation.
It's a big event for the kids at Warren Day School. Lapmardo has many of them -- 25 to be exact.
"I love what I do, I love the kids, I love the school," she said, standing by a wall covered with construction paper artwork. "I feel in my heart that I don't want to be anywhere else. I'm where I'm supposed to be."
Upcoming honors: She and fellow teacher Louise Howard -- who has been with the school 32 years -- will be honored by administrators at Tuesday's graduation for their years of work.
"Every day, when I teach my kids, I'm fulfilled at the end of the day," Howard said, folding her hands and resting them on the miniature table.
"I've given them something. I don't just come here and play and let them play. I've instilled things in them."
Both teachers speak of foundations and how important they are to children.
"You need to instill the basics so they can better understand life," Howard said, then added with a laugh, "You learn everything you need to learn in preschool: Sharing, cleaning up after yourself, good manners. You can't wait until ninth or 10th grade to teach this."
Lapmardo said that not only is it important to teach the children, but a teacher has to learn from the kids as well.
"Everything they come up with amazes me," she said, pulling on a white cardigan over her bright-pink pantsuit.
An example: She shared a story about two children in her class, one boy, one girl, who were talking about mixed marriages.
"Then the little boy said to the little girl, 'It doesn't matter what color you are,'" Lapmardo looked to the kids playing across the classroom. "That really surprised me -- a little child saying that."
Some of the most rewarding experiences come years later, when the teachers get to see their kids all grown up.
"You see them, and your children have excelled so well," Howard said, smiling.
"And they all say 'It started with Miss Louise.'"

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