Kindergarten Countdown was developed to help families better navigate and prepare for the critical transition into kindergarten and helps students be better prepared for school. Kindergarten Countdown is offered to incoming kindergartners with little to no prior Pre-K experience, English Language Learners, and/or children identified by school staff as at risk for falling behind their classmates.
“Teaching is not a profession; it’s a passion. Without passion for your subject and a desire for your students to learn and be the best in the world, then we have failed, and failure is not an option.” John F. Podojil 2003
Kelly Loebert is one of our Kindergarten Countdown veteran teachers and has been teaching a total of 39 years including 6 years with Kindergarten Countdown. She is teaching at Waynedale Elementary and is proud to say that she is from Fort Wayne. Miss Loebert knew that she wanted to be a teacher for a long time. She refers to her mother as the greatest teacher she ever had, even though her mother was not a teacher by profession. Miss Loebert’s mother, like many women of her generation, devoted her life to being a wife and mother. She dreamed of being a teacher though and made sure to instill a love of learning into her children. “My mother was always voracious about reading to us and just doing things with us as kids. For example, we would be in the kitchen making playdoh or we would be making cookies, and she would tie that back to math. And she just has a love for learning and still does, even as old as she is,” Miss Loebert explained. Another influence in Miss Loebert’s life was her aunt who was the director of their church’s nursery. One day when Miss Loebert was a junior in high school, a nursery teacher called out sick and Miss Loebert’s aunt asked her if she could fill in at the nursery. Up to this point, Miss Loebert knew she wanted to be a teacher, but that day at the church nursery affirmed it and made her realize what age she would like to teach. Miss Loebert reflects on that special day: “It was amazing to me at that time, just what those little kids could take in and how rapt their attention was, and I knew that day. That sold it for me, I was going to be an early childhood educator.”
Unfortunately, due to construction, Waynedale Elementary will not be part of Kindergarten Countdown this summer. Despite this fact, Miss Loebert is one of the program’s biggest advocates. “Kindergarten Countdown lays the foundation for our students to learn and to become the best in the world. The kiddos who attend are the leaders in the fall because they have experience and know what the life of a successful kindergarten student looks like, sounds like, and feels like,” explained Miss Loebert. She is especially pleased with how the program impacts students’ social-emotional development as she is finding that the development of those skills has become even more crucial due to the isolation that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. Many of the children who participate in Kindergarten Countdown have not had prior experience with childcare or preschool so gaining experience in a school setting prior to starting in the K-12 system is incredibly beneficial. Besides social-emotional development, children do a variety of different activities such as hands-on work like arts and crafts as well as reading. In fact, one of Miss Loebert’s favorite memories from the program is when a child excitedly shared with both her and the child’s mother that “I’m a reader!” Miss Loebert loves to see how children grow in their communication and literacy skills over the course of the month-long program.
Miss Loebert is proud to have taught in such a wonderful program where students who would not have otherwise been prepared for kindergarten get a head start on school. The program is not only beneficial to the students but also to the families and the community as starting that relationship-building early on is so important for a child’s success in the K-12 system. We thank Miss Loebert for her patience and dedication to the Kindergarten Countdown program and to the education of children here in Allen County.