A tot has fallen down on the soft ground at the Giving Tree Preschool’s playground, and his teacher goes to check on him. She asks some questions, gives a hug and declares him suitable for more play.
Such is daily life for Kathy Martin, director and head teacher at the Giving Tree Preschool.
Martin has taught at Giving Tree for 34 years and has been its director for the past 19. She started teaching at Giving Tree at the same time that her son, Grant, started preschool there. An early-childhood education major, Martin has always found children to be her muse.
“Children have such excitement and passion — just coming in, they are excited to visit, to learn, to play. We just have such a great rapport with them and they do with us,” she says.
The preschool is under the umbrella of First Christian Church. A colorful floor is dedicated to the preschool’s four classrooms, where the kids all do requisite preschool activities: learn, play and eat snacks. Martin teaches all three of the sessions at Giving Tree, with help from one assistant teacher for each session. Parents are also invited to participate.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed with the best families — who in turn have given us the privilege of continuing the positive foundation set in home by parents,” she says.
Parents, who are likewise appreciative of Martin’s love for their children, submitted numerous Only In Lawrence nominations for Martin.
Kori Walburn says, “She has given (my daughter) a wonderful beginning educationally. Her time, talent and knowledge are irreplaceable.”
Martin’s span at the school is such that she is now teaching the second generation — kids whose parents were also her students. She’s also had two marriages, including that of her son, come out of her classroom. And one grandchild has been through her classroom, with another currently enrolled.
Asked how long she’ll continue to teach, she demurs from giving an exact answer, saying, “The joy of teaching is here for me, in the program. I love it.”