Hello! My name is Donna Aguirre and I am the Art Cluster teacher at Z111 in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn. I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing early childhood center! It is an honor to be working with such a creative and talented staff as well as such a caring and supportive administration. The best part of it, however, is being in the company of the eager little learners that come to us every day for knowledge, encouragement and love.
I am so grateful I was given the incredible opportunity to be a part of this program. If you would have told me in June of 2016 that this is where I would be, I wouldn’t have believed it. I had 27 years of teaching experience at that time. I was “too young” to retire. I was not totally ready to leave the profession I gave more than half my life to and I had thoughts about a fresh start.
I decided I would like to be a substitute teacher in order to explore other opportunities. This is what led me to Z111. Instantly, it was magical! My love for teaching returned and escalated even more! This was “right.” Everything was age appropriate. The philosophy I believed in was alive and well in District 20 Pre-K. The children learned through play. It was a bright happy positive atmosphere and I knew from the first few times I substituted that I needed to be in this environment- full time.
After a lot of paper work and advice and encouragement from the best administrator I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, I was offered the amazing opportunity to be the Art teacher at Z111 – the newest Pre-K center in District 20.
I cannot say enough about how fantastic this center is. I can’t believe how it has brought back my passion for teaching. It is a beautiful building with beautiful people- grown and small! I can be as creative as the children lead me to be. I truly learn something new from them every day! Their interests drive my instruction for every Unit of Study. While learning about sculpture and 3D art, the students expressed an interest in building castles. So now we are planning to build an ice castle for our winter show. Their play turns into beautiful pieces of art work on a daily basis. It is so rewarding when a child tells me “I love art” or “I love coming to this room.” Being able to help students express themselves through visual arts is a heart warming experience for me. When foam blocks turn into a castle for a princess or water bottles turn into a giant chandelier- that’s success.
So as I become ever closer to not being “too young” to retire, I just want to thank everyone at Z111 for making this part of my career so enjoyable and meaningful. Without a doubt this is the highlight of my teaching experience.
Donna Aguirre, Pre-K Art Teacher Z111