On a grand scale, Cheryl Post’s pioneering programs inside St. Michael the Archangel School have helped shape generations of youngsters across Findlay, Northwest Ohio and beyond.
But on a one-on-one, single-child basis, the longtime educator still loves seeing “that light bulb” switch on when she helps a kindergarten boy learn the alphabet using foam letters.
“I’m turning 70 in November — and I don’t feel a day past 50. I really don’t. The kids are vibrant. They’re alive. They’re curious. They want to know about things. They know that people care about them,” she said.
Post started teaching second grade at St. Michael School back in 1975. She helped launch the kindergarten program in 1978, which she continued teaching through 1999.
Backtrack a few years: In 1994-95, Post took a leave of absence and wrote the program for the school’s Kindergarten Readiness initiative.
KR program preps kids for kindergarten
This was no mere play-based preschool — the new curriculum added more academia for children who had just missed the kindergarten cutoff date, or were not cognitively prepared.
“And then at one point, I said, ‘You know Mrs. (Anne) Brehm, with all the families where there’s two parents working, I think we could help the community by expanding that. So Kindergarten Readiness went to an all-day program,” Post said.
“It’s all-inclusive. These children are 4 and 5, and they can stay all day, have lunch there, take a nap in the afternoon. And if they need additional care beyond the school day, we have a before- and after-school program,” she said.
Post finally retired from the classroom in May 2014 after knee replacement surgery.
A staple at St. Michael School since 1975
More than 40 years after her St. Michael School debut, she’s far from finished: She still works 25 hours per week as a K-2 tutor and small-group instructor. She teaches the kids for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
“I really get to make a difference with a struggling child now. They’re the ones that need someone to listen to them. Not that they’re going to get lost in the classroom, but they need some extra special attention that it takes to make them feel good about themselves and to feel successful,” she said.
In July, even with her vast experience, Post attended a phonics training session at Millstream Career Center. Why?
“The driving force for that class is one student that I teach. He’s been diagnosed with dyslexia, and this was a multisensory class. And I knew the information I could glean from taking a weeklong class would help him be a better student.”