Mattie Cramer has been teaching at IHSD since 2007 and opens up about how she serendipitously became a preschool teacher.

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IHSD: Introduce yourself!

Mattie: Hi! I’m Mattie Cramer. 

I: Tell me how you became a Head Start teacher.

M: When I was in sixth grade, the students were asking the teacher what they could be when they grow up. He was very negative with me. He said to me that the best I would do is be a waitress. 

I: Oh my, sorry to hear that! So then what happened?

M: It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy that I would become a waitress. And I would become the best waitress I knew at the time! But I felt it there was more than me than that. So then when I was 27 years old, I was playing with an autistic child who I just met at a laundromat. His mother saw me and told me that I should go into education. Since that moment, I wanted to work with children with autism. 

I: So then, how did you get to know Head Start?

M: I was introduced to Head Start when I was working in Texas and fell in love with Head Start model. Because it’s not just about the child, it’s about the whole family and being part of the community. It really touched my heart. 

I: And then when did you start working at IHSD?

M: Moving from Texas to Northern California, I had already chosen preschool as my career path, and I wanted to stay in Head Start. In 2007, I started in Magnolia and still teaching there now. 

I: So what has changed at Magnolia since you started?

M: We get a lot of success stories. So many families have shared how well their child is in school as a result of being in the Head Start program. They say, “Oh [my kids] are doing so well,” and that just reaffirms that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. And even though I can hear the kids crying right now (haha), I wouldn’t change a single moment, because this is what I love to do every single day. 

I: And what do you enjoy about teaching preschool?

M: I’ve always loved children. It was like an answered prayer [from the mom at the laundromat]. This is my happy place. You see the potential in the children, and it’s like they’re teaching me. They’ll give you all the love as long as you give it in return.

I: Now what do you think makes IHSD so special?

M: There’s a hunger to reach all families and to make sure there’s not one child that’s left behind. That everyone can benefit from what the program can bring.

I: And what are you thoughts for the new school year?

M: It takes a whole team. I want to make sure the staff and team are my priority and that they love coming to work. It gets better with each new day, and I have an amazing team. I really do. 

I: Can you share any advice for new teachers?

M: Remember to breathe. Don’t get so caught up in every little to-do. Enjoy the time with the children and the rest will just fall into place. They’re only so little for this short time.

I: Any other thoughts to share?

M: I was never was a Head Start child, but I could’ve been. My parents just didn’t know about it at the time. I wouldn’t ever want that to happen now to any family, because I want to make sure that not one family misses out on the benefits Head Start has to offer. Every child and every family should know that their voice matters. So when a child does go to sixth grade and gets asked about what they want they want, they know they matter.

Thank you Teacher Mattie for sharing with us.