Celebrating International Children’s Day W/ SGSY Community Member Tori Kelley
We are all about community at SGSY; people and the planet are at the center of all we do.
This International Children’s Day (June 1st) we want to celebrate by highlighting one of our community members, Tori Kelley; a teacher that is truly making a difference in the lives of children every day. Below, Tori shares what got her interested in teaching our future generation, what she wishes we knew about them and offers some advice on how to teach the little ones in your life about sustainability.
Introduce yourself! Who are you, where do you teach, what ages do you teach?
My name is Tori Kelley and I teach 4K in the Myrtle Beach SC area at My Sunshine Child Development Center. I am a South Carolina First Steps lead teacher. South Carolina First Steps works to ensure that all children start school ready to reach their highest potential along with engaged support from their parents, caregivers, and communities. The children I serve are generally 4 and 5-year-olds.
Why did you decide to teach?
For as long as I can remember I have had a desire to teach young children. However, as it so often happens, there was another plan in place for me. I married and had 5 children of my own much to my parent’s surprise-I was an only child and they never expected so many grandbabies. I now have 2 beautiful, intelligent granddaughters of my own. As my children were growing I served my church as a Sunday school teacher and leader of my daughter’s various Girl Scout Troops. In 2000, after a short stint as an assistant in a preschool setting, I decided it was time to get a formal education in Early Childhood Development/Education and fulfill my dream. I have enjoyed almost 20 years in this setting and have savored every moment and memory.
What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
I love the relationship-building aspect of my job the most. Building relationships with both the children AND their families. To see the children progress from being shy and reserved, maybe even skeptical at the beginning of the year, to confident, strong, and trusting individuals at the end is bliss.
How have you been teaching your preschoolers about the environment?
Teaching in our First Step classrooms always begins with the teacher modeling the behaviors we want to see in our students. From the beginning of my journey with each class each year, I talk about respect for our classroom and each other and that includes taking care of the items in the classroom that we are stewards over. We talk about where we live (our town, our state, our country, and our planet) and what we need to do to make sure it stays the best place to be.
More recently we have completed two environmental studies – Gardening and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We planted what we called an ABC garden by reusing gallon milk jugs. As you can imagine My Sunshine CDC goes through a lot of milk and our class tries to reuse the empties as often as we can. (picture) Seeds were donated by an Instagram friend of our classroom, @icangrowinthat, and we’ve been growing radishes, peas, squash, and green beans. We recently harvested some of the beans (picture). During our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle study we have been concentrating on how we can make less waste. The children are really enjoying taking ‘trash’ and repurposing it. (pictures) When the So Good So You company sent us some delicious immunity-boosting shots we took the opportunity to reuse as many of the packaging items (the bottles, the boxes the shots came in, the foam packaging, the reusable cooling packs, and even the brown packing paper) that we could. Almost none of it went into our dumpster.
Why do you think it is so important to teach our younger generation about the environment?
I hope the children I teach now and those that have come through my classrooms over the years realize that their actions will affect our world for the generations that have come before them and those that follow. They will be the small business owners and corporate executives fueling our future economy. They will be the public servants and politicians shaping the world. I hope I have enlightened, encouraged, and maybe inspired these youngest learners a little about how fragile and small our part of the universe is and that it needs to be protected and cared for. It’s cliche, but they ARE our future.
Any tips for families/other teachers that want to educate kids about the environment?
I talk to parents often about recognizing the ‘teachable’ moments in life. Everyday life – riding in the car, doing the dishes, taking out the trash – is full of those moments. I remind them that they are their children’s first and best teachers.
What do you wish the world knew about our future generation?
Every generation brings a lot of hope and promise to the world. There is a lot of cynicism in the world right now. Older generations (I am in the old-ish category) mistake the current generation’s enthusiasm and progressive ideas as being detrimental to the status quo. Life is a team sport and learning to compromise is an essential societal value. Maybe I have a different perspective because I spend the majority of my time with young children and young families and my own family reminds me all the time to keep an open mind!
Kids can be so insightful and wise beyond their years. Can you share with us a time one of your students surprised you with something they said/did?
My young students keep me thinking and in a state of amazement throughout every day. Some of their conversations with and around me are silly and funny and others swell my heart with joy. One day during our outside period I overheard one of my seasoned students telling a new student, “One very important thing in our class is to always do the right thing when no one is looking. Ms. Tori likes that.” When they ‘get it’ there’s no better feeling.
What is your favorite SGSY shot and when do you like to take it?
This question is easy! My favorite SGSY shot is the Energy probiotic shot. I drink one on my way to work with some added vitamin supplements; I drink another after lunch; and the last one on my way home from work. As a reformed soda drinker, I was missing the caffeine boost at different times throughout the day. I’ve tried all of the different varieties that my local groceries carry and love the taste of them all. The clean ingredients in all of the SGSY products make me feel good about drinking 2-3 a day.
Do you have a favorite memory from your childhood? Did you learn about the environment at this age? Let us know below! We would love to know any tips you have for teaching little ones about the world around us 🌎
Need a restock of shots for you and your family? Head to our grocery locator here