published Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I Love my Job: at Siskin Children’s Institute

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All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned at Siskin Children’s Institute

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, how to be, I learned at Siskin Children’s Institute. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are: When you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.*

*Adapted from “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

As Director of School Operations for Siskin Children’s Institute, I have the ultimate privilege of interacting with the greatest group of kids. I witness in awe as the child who comes to our school without eye contact and lacking verbal skills is, within a year’s time, greeting me with a smile as I unload the buses. I can sit at my office desk and observe children playing and interacting on the playground, an activity that many of our parents may have only dreamed of. Walking the halls of Siskin is an amazing journey for me to hear the “Hey, Dr. Cooks”, see the thumbs up, or just the eyes shining, all loving reactions of kids of different abilities. As an educator with 30-plus years of experience, I can honestly say there is no better way to spend a day. The fulfillment of working with this great group of kids and their families is unbelievable. It is truly a joy and a blessing to come to work everyday.

I must also include what a great experience it is to work with such a dedicated, quality staff. The love and care provided by our teachers and teaching partners continues to energize and inspire me on a daily basis. The staff, working with our caring parents, never gives up on a child. They identify each child’s strengths and build upon it. They teach the whole child, both cognitive and affective domains. They are dedicated to helping each child pursue and reach his/her potential.

Yes, I love my job because I see miracles occur on a daily basis. Miracles created by the greatest group of kids, professionals, and caring parents. I am thankful each day for this opportunity.

Dr. David Cook

Director of School Operations at Siskin Children’s Institute.

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