MARION — This week’s Orthopaedic Center of Southern Illinois MVT–Most Valuable Teacher Award goes to Mrs. Rani Walker, a Family Consumer Science teacher at Marion High School.
In addition to teaching childcare, child development, adult living and parenting classes, Mrs. Walker is also the director of the Early Childhood Education Lab and Kiddie City. To be able to continue their direct work with young children during the pandemic, Walker and her students have had to make many adjustments to their daily protocols.
Mrs. Walker is quite familiar with Kiddie City. Her mom, Linda, started the program and ran it for more than three decades. Rani was part of the program as a preschooler, helped in the program as a high schooler, and took over the program in 2011 when her mom retired.
Normally Kiddie City has 30 or more preschoolers and 40 high school students. To keep numbers down, they’ve taken only half the normal preschoolers this semester. The high school students are divided into two groups–with one group staying to help at Kiddie City, while the second group visits other schools in the district to work with kids in different age groups.
Students that complete the program receive seven hours of college credit through John A. Logan. They are CPR certified, and receive a level one early childhood education teaching certificate along with a portfolio if they choose to go into teacher education.
As student Gabriella Cox told us in her nomination, “While being in this whole pandemic, our Child Care teachers feared not having Kiddie City. Mrs. Walker-Gross spent long exhausting hours pulling strings to give us the best in-person learning. Not only does she run child care, she has many valuable classes like parenting, adult living and child development. I truly believe Mrs. Walker-Gross is one of the best and most valuable teachers at Marion High School.”
If you know of a Most Valuable Teacher, let us know. You can nominate a Most Valuable Teacher here.