One of the things we’re most proud of at Launch is that we have tons of talented, amazing teachers who have been at Launch for many years. Earlier this month, preschool teacher Dora Newman celebrated her 25th anniversary as a Launch employee! We’ve been so lucky to have a teacher like Dora at Launch. Not only is she a great educator who truly cares about children and families, but she is also a wonderful mentor to other teachers.
Our Executive Director, Brianna Jackson, wanted to share some thoughts about Dora and the impact she’s had at Launch:
“Dora was one of the first teachers I encountered at Launch (back then we were called CDSA). When I started at Launch as a bright-eyed 18-year-old, I was placed with Dora and Heather at the Madrona preschool for the first month of my time as a teacher. I had such an amazing experience that it made me want to keep teaching. It fueled an excitement for this work that I wasn’t expecting.
Dora at Madrona circa 1994.
As a new teacher, I couldn’t have had a better experience than to have a teacher like Dora as a role model. She is so passionate about spreading the wealth and sharing the breadth of her knowledge. Even though I was young when I started at Launch, Dora treated me as a full team member. She really made me feel like I was a key part of the classroom and that I had valuable things to bring to the table even though I didn’t have much experience teaching. And she always took the time to explain things to me – it was important to her that I understood what was happening in the classroom and most importantly, why, which I think is a sign of a really good teacher.
Dora believes in creating a space where people can be themselves. She’s incredibly good at bringing out the best in people and getting them out of their shell. She teaches that it’s okay to be who you are and bring your whole self to working with kids. That’s what kids need and want, because when you do that there’s so much learning that happens. And I just remember thinking how cool that was, and how inspiring she was.
Dora at her 25th anniversary party with fellow Launch preschool teacher Heather (L) and former Launch Executive Director Caryn Swan Jamero (R)
One of the things that’s so beautiful about Dora is she really understands that to be the best teacher you can be, you have to bring your full self to this work and allow kids to see who you really are and what you’re passionate about. Outside of Launch, Dora teaches Brazilian dance and performs in a dance troupe. She’s brought a lot of her passion for dance, music and her Brazilian culture into the Launch classroom. I’ve never seen another teacher able to keep kids entertained and engaged as long as Dora can. Just ask anyone about her circle times 🙂
By bringing her authentic self to the classroom, she’s able to connect with kids and families on a deeper level and build a strong sense of community. You get this feeling that once you come into Dora’s circle, you’re part of her family. I think that’s why people gravitate towards her.
Over the last 25 years, Dora has had over 500 kids in her classroom. That’s 500 kids who have become part of her family. 500 kids who have gone out into the world and taken a piece of Launch with them. 500 kids who she impacted so deeply that many of them come back years later and tell her that she made such a difference for them. And that’s not even including the countless other elementary school children who attended the Launch at Madrona after school program. They might not have been in Dora’s classroom, but they still learned from her and felt how much she cared about them.
When I think about Dora’s 25 years at Launch, I think about the impact she’s had on so many kids and families and how she’s made them a part of her community. And I think about all of the teachers who are also part of her community and are better educators because of her. When you look at the difference she’s made for kids and families, as well as for the teachers she’s mentored who have gone on to be full-fledged educators in the school system or early learning field, it’s pretty incredible. It’s really inspiring to see someone who has continued to do what they care about and really walk the talk. We’ve been so fortunate to have had Dora at Launch for the past 25 years. We’ve learned a lot from her and will hopefully continue to learn from her for many more years!
Dora, thank you for being a part of Launch and for your deep commitment to building a supportive, loving community for children and families. We can’t express how much you mean to us and how lucky we are to have you!”