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Quinn Hunter McGonagle, Pacific Oaks Children’s School Alumna


January 17, 2017


Published: January 17, 2017

As an alumna of the Children’s School, what would you describe as some of your best memories there?

Even though it was more than thirty years ago that I attended Pacific Oaks Children’s School as a youngster, I still have many vivid memories I cherish to this day. Mostly, I remember riding a tricycle up and down Shady Lane and being surrounded by friends and caring teachers while playing outdoors in the sand and at the painting easel.

And now you’re a teacher at the School! Tell us a little about your background and what brought you back to the Children’s School.

As young as 10 years old, I have fond memories of “volunteering” in my younger sister’s Children’s School classroom. I remember deeply admiring the gentle way her teachers handled minor conflicts between children, and how they engaged the children in fun and playful learning experiences; I really got the sense, even at that young age, that these teachers really loved the work they did. It wasn’t until undergraduate college at UC Santa Cruz that I really discovered my own love for teaching in a school setting. I graduated college and came straight back to Pacific Oaks and worked as a teacher in many different yards throughout campus, as well as became the school-wide art teacher. I went on to Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development, and once again, upon graduating came straight back to PO!

What excites you about rejoining the Children’s School community?

The children, their families, my wonderful co-teachers, as well as the beautiful, sprawling natural campus. My roots are so deep in the Children’s School that the sense of community I feel goes beyond merely being a teacher here: I know how it feels to be a child here, free to express your true feelings and ideas; I understand on a profound level why play and social interactions are so critical for developing young minds; and I will even experience the feeling of being a parent in this wonderful community when my daughter attends Pacific Oaks in the Fall!

You also teach at Pacific Oaks College. How does your style or approach change based on the very distinct student populations you teach at the College and Children’s School?

Being that the Children’s School has its roots in progressive education, I like to apply similar theories of education to my work with students at Pacific Oaks College. I find value in not only lecturing, but engaging students in deep and meaningful dialogue, during which these adult learners develop the ability to speak openly and intellectually about how the course content relates to their real life work in the human development field.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

It is truly a pleasure coming to work each day. I find so much joy in seeing such happy and engaged children, teachers, and parents. If I had to be more specific, the most satisfying part of my job is engaging in casual conversations over a family-style meal and having spontaneous dance parties in the classroom!

Do you have any advice for individuals working in early childhood education/higher education or looking to get into these fields?

What are you waiting for?! When you work in the early childhood education field there is no room for boredom or stagnation; every single day brings new and refreshing challenges that in turn brings about inspiration.