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Get to Know Pre K 3 Teacher, Leigh Augustine

Leigh loves being outside!
What are you loving about Parker, so far?
The campus is so exciting and I just love the grounds. Prior to moving to Brooklyn, I taught at the Bennington College Early Childhood Center. We had the ability to be outside a lot as well, and giving that experience to kids is what I was looking for, personally and professionally. It’s been magical to move from the urban setting to this campus and experience that with children. It was not easy to find a new home for my educational philosophy. I searched for a long time and Parker is such a great fit.
Tell us a little bit about your educational philosophy…
At the heart of my teaching philosophy is the idea that children are inherently curious and inquisitive. The concept that kids come as vessels to be filled is contrary to my beliefs. Children come to school with their own beliefs, opinions, questions and ideas. It’s our job to help them find their own answers and model what learning can be. An emergent curriculum forms from answering meaningful questions from children. I don’t like to think of “tricking” kids into learning — it’s the opposite. The learning process should impart a love of learning to children; that it can be enjoyable and worthwhile, and those feelings drive them to keep wanting to learn.
The light table and magnet blocks are a favorite combination during free choice.
What is an emergent curriculum and can you give us an example?
It’s essentially drawing on the authentic interests and curiosities of children to inform project work or units of study. When done well, it’s paired with the goals and interests of the adults as well.
For example, we’re doing a mini-study of trees right now. The children were really interested in finding a willow tree after receiving some baskets made of willow for the classroom. We’ve been going outside hunting for trees. The children call them “willow walks.” In this process we have been finding lots of oaks and also apple trees. This has led us to learn about trees and what they produce which paired perfectly with a trip to the apple orchard last week. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Parker community?

I live in Niskayuna with my husband and our two boys. My bachelor’s degree is in fine arts…the arts are really my first love. Also, having Sarah, as an assistant and collaborator, has been fantastic. Everyone at Parker is so kind. The community seems so great and it feels good to be a part of the family here.
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