While the hustle and bustle of parents preparing children for preschool will continue this fall, it won’t involve Donna Legere.
The 56-year-old Legere has been running a daycare or preschool since 1992, retiring this year, with her last day running New Beginnings Preschool in June.
Legere started her journey in child care when she was on maternity leave, and was approached by a fellow parent to look after another child. She would run her own family day care for six years, before going to school and opening New Beginnings.
“If someone would have told me 29 years ago what my journey would have looked like, I’d have said ‘no,’” she quipped. “I didn’t think about the future in that time frame.”
The first year Legere started a preschool, she started with 21 children, and ended with 42.
“This has never been a job for me, this is who I am,” she said. “Providing that quality care, and providing an extended home and environment for children so they feel loved and cared for.”
Legere said the first six years of life are where children learn skills they take with them for the rest of their life, focusing on teaching social skills, conflict resolution and self-regulation.
“Our role as educators is to give them patience, resilience and understanding,” she said. “If they fall down, it’s important to get back up. Things don’t just happen now. We have to work towards goals.”
Legere said childhood educators should follow their passions and stay true to themselves to succeed.
“In the society that we live in, there’s so much information thrown at us,” she said. “Absolutely take all of the information that is good and positive for children, but always stay true to who you are.”
Those qualities have paid off for Legere. The two-year-old boy she took on as her first student brought both of his own children to New Beginnings.
“It was so heartwarming to me that he felt trustworthy enough to bring his children to me and I’ve had many of those experiences,” Legere said. “My very first preschool graduation, when I saw that first group of pictures of those children, my first thought was ‘where did all of the time go?’”
Legere hopes to spend more time with her five grandchildren in retirement, adding her family had been marking days off the calendar until she was finally retired.
“I will miss those smiles and my name, ‘Miss Donna,’ but I’m appreciating who ‘Nana’ is now,” she said.
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