photo of Mike Gardiner

Mike Gardiner (Teacher Mike)

Date of hire: May 2006

My favorite children's book/story:

Press Here by Herve Tullet

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

Guess Again! by Mac Barnett & Adam Rex

Fun facts about me:

• I once pitched a no-hitter... in Whiffle Ball.

• I'm a big S.F. Giants fan; I've attended games for 30+ years, including the 1989, 2002, 2010, & 2012 World Series.

• I was the first customer at the first Hobee's Restaurant in 1974 (the founder lived a few houses away).

Why did you decide to work with preschoolers?

My venture into preschool education was a happy accident. When we enrolled our son at Children's Center, I was invited to help fill a part-time spot made available by a retiring founding member of the school, "Teacher Paul" Shay. The opportunity to have my hands and clothes covered in paint without the awkwardness of doing it in a business meeting was too much to resist.

I worked out the schedule with my wife, and was soon playing in the sand, riding bikes, and doing lots of other fun things with my 3-year-old son and 120 other kids. So while I can't say I planned to work at a preschool, it's eight years later now (in 2014), my son's 11, my 4-year-old daughter's now at CC, and we've never looked back!

What do you love the most about teaching/working with little ones?

I'm sure there are a lot of rewarding jobs out there, but when I'm spending several hours every day helping young kids learn about the world around them, what it means to be good to other people, and to have fun while I'm doing it, the "work" is the reward. It's great knowing that what I'm doing will have an influence for years, and in ways I might never imagine.

But we're not the only ones doing the teaching. Without even trying, the kids teach us things all the time, and remind us of important things we tend to forget as adults, such as the need to be curious and creative, or to just slow down and take time to enjoy what we're doing. As the parent of two young children, I would recommend working at a preschool (even for a short time) to anyone who genuinely wants to be a better parent. I love that I'm able to be a better adult and a better dad to my own kids because of all the things the kids and staff at the Children's Center have taught me.

From your perspective, what makes the Children's Center so special?

Without question, it's the relationships. First and foremost the relationship between the teachers and the kids of course, but also between the administrative staff and the teachers, the teachers and the parents, among the teachers, and even among the children. There's no better evidence of how well the children are supported than to see all of these relationships work together to create an environment that lets the kids be themselves and to flourish.