Students, parents and colleagues surprised preschool teacher Kathy Morey on a sunny April 9 afternoon with cake, balloons and the award for Exceptional Educator of the Year.
The award is given annually by the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA). MIPA Co-VP of Preschool Jessica Apodaca said they received 25 nomination letters for “Miss Kathy,” who has been teaching at Mercer Island’s Creative Learning Center for about 16 years.
Marilyn Wellnitz, the director and owner of Creative Learning Center, wrote in her letter that Morey “hasn’t earned this honor due to her many years, although the years alone are impressive, she’s earned it one minute at a time; with every rub to the back, with every kind word of encouragement, with her thoughtfulness, with an abundance of kindness towards not only the children, but her fellow workers.”
Morey is the first teacher from Creative Learning Center to win the award. There are nine teachers on staff, including Wellnitz’s two daughters. The Montessori preschool is located next to the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
Wellnitz said the goal of the school is to “spark a joy of learning, and curiosity,” and that it’s important to her that a child’s first teacher is a positive influence in their life.
Morey said she just loves kids, guiding them and helping them develop not just academic skills, but virtues like respect, love, patience and kindness. According to the nomination letters, these are qualities Morey exudes herself, along with “a wonderful calming quality,” sincerity and authenticity.
One letter reads: “She has an authentic way of relating to kids that is so genuine and honest. I’ve watched her disarm kids who think they can persuade her to give in or change her mind and within a minute, they’ve forgotten why they were upset and are off playing. It’s like magic.”
Morey “engages every family and builds community,” one admirer wrote.
“Miss Kathy is everything you would ever want from a preschool teacher: positive, peaceful, patient, kind, thoughtful, playful, attentive, and a great communicator with the parents,” according to another letter.
Morey, who lives on the Island and has eight children of her own, said she is “blessed to work with wonderful kids, parents and staff.”
For more information about MIPA, see www.mipreschoolassociation.org.