We are thrilled to share the next post in our Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) summer blog series that kicked off in Waukegan on June 19th. Up next, we’d like to introduce Ashley Latz, a Waukegan educator, sharing her experience as a KCC teacher this summer.
Tell us about yourself and your role in camp.
My name is Ashley Latz. I have been a Waukegan educator for the past 10 years. I taught kindergarten in Waukegan for 9 years and I will return to teaching in the fall as an Instructional Coach. This summer has been an absolute joy co-teaching kindergarten alongside Susie Feldman, for United Way’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp at Lyon Elementary School.
What are you passionate about? Why?
I am most passionate about serving the children in the Waukegan community. My main goal as an educator is to create an environment that is child-centered, where children feel welcome, safe, and truly loved for the individuals that they are. By recognizing each child as their individual self, recognizing their strengths and supporting their weaknesses, I feel I can foster their love of lifelong learning. I pride myself in being a lifelong learner and I have dedicated myself to my work and to the children and community that I serve.
What has been the most memorable part about your involvement with Kindergarten Countdown Camp?
Most of the children came to us with little to no kindergarten readiness skills. Most have never been in school, let alone away from their parents for a long period of time. Needless to say, we had many tears on the first day of camp. Just a few short weeks later, the excitement on the children’s faces when they arrive to camp is a reminder of how far they’ve come in just a few short weeks. We are greeted with big smiles, and even bigger hugs! The most memorable part of my involvement with Kindergarten Countdown Camp is the relationships I’ve built with the children. Their future success is important to me and I am happy that I got to be a small part of their educational journey.
Do you think Kindergarten Countdown Camp is making an impact on children that attend?
I feel this program has had a profound impact on the children that it served. The children are excited to come to school and can’t wait to find out what our activities will be each day. I have seen improvements in their social interactions with peers and adults, handwriting skills, ability to recognize letters and sounds, number sense and counting, book and print awareness, cooperative play within a small group, ability to attend to an activity for an extended period of time, and the ability to travel to new and unfamiliar places during our Friday field trips. I know because of the help of this program, they will be well prepared for kindergarten in the fall.
Tell us about your experience with United Way of Lake County?
The United Way has done so much for the children in our community. Their support extends far beyond Kindergarten Countdown Camp. Their work with Waukegan Public Schools can also be seen throughout the school year. From student interns to community volunteers, they have truly found a way to work together with community partners to help support and prepare our children for success in the future. I was fortunate enough to see this commitment during my work with the Kindergarten Countdown Camp. A special thank you to all of those involved in bringing these wonderful programs to our community and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.
To support more programs, like Kindergarten Countdown Camp, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/give.