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Photo Gallery | Teacher Celebrates 40 Years Of Excellence In Va.

Studies show that high-quality early learning is quite possibly one of the greatest investments we can make in our children’s lives. Teachers pass on knowledge and values, and prepare our children for further education. This important profession sometimes goes unnoticed, but not today.

The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center is honoring an extraordinary preschool teacher who is a native of Arlington County on Thursday with a reception where former students, parents, and friends will be in attendance.

Gloria Turner has been teaching high-energy toddlers and preschoolers year-round for 40 years at the Children’s Center located at 7230 Idylwood Road in Falls Church, Va.

So far, more than 1,000 children have mastered essential preschool skills such as zipping up their coat, tying their shoes, putting away toys after they’ve played, and socializing under Gloria Turner’s loving but firm guidance.

“I never get tired of working with kids,” Turner explained. “I love seeing that look of wonder when they discover things or that big smile that comes over their face when they accomplish something. Children at this age have a natural learning process, and it’s fascinating to watch them learn and grow.”

While in Gloria Turner’s classroom, I found myself as fascinated and wide-eyed as the kids seeing her interaction with the children; exposing them to numbers, letters, and shapes. I don’t remember much from preschool, but I do have fond memories of a sandbox, and my teacher who would keep me from crying when my mom, who was hesitant to leave, rushed out to work.

Each weekday morning for the last 40 years, Gloria Turner, has helped parents separate and go off to work, reassuring them that their child would be perfectly fine.

“I’m just amazed by her,” explained The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center Director, Elizabeth Page. “Even after all this time, Gloria always wants to learn something new. She goes to workshops, and reads often to make sure she is up to date with new ideas and activities to guide the children, and help them master early learning skills. These children have stability and structure all day long with her, which sets a healthy foundation. We are lucky to have her.”

Turner has encountered challenges over the years as The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center serves a diverse population, with more than half of its children from low-income, working families that have special needs or don’t speak English as a first language.

“It doesn’t matter where the child comes from, he or she is accepted,” said Turner. “We have many programs for children with special needs and for those who don’t speak English. By the time they leave here to go to kindergarten, the children have their English down, and their special needs have been recognized.”

At 67-years-old, Turner looks forward to the future and has no plans to retire anytime soon.

The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center is a non-profit that provides a comprehensive, high-quality early childhood program designed to give all young children, regardless of their family’s economic resources, a strong foundation on which to build the rest of their lives.

You can donate online here

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