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Faculty Profile: Kathryn Lee, PK3 Head Teacher

October 11, 2019

Please tell us about your path to Léman.

I was born in South Korea and I came to the United States as an exchange student and loved it. I went to college at the University of Illinois where I studied psychology and worked in a developmental psychology lab. The experience made me realize that I wanted to work with children. I moved to New York City to study at Columbia University Teachers College, where I got my master’s in General and Special Education. Through my master’s program, I had the opportunity to student teach in all different age groups, from nursery through elementary school, as well as in special education classrooms. I really fell in love with teaching the youngest students. I love teaching this age because they are so innocent, and they want to learn. Everything is exciting and new to them, which is so satisfying as a teacher because you know you’re making a difference every day. After I finished my master's, I worked at Mandell School for nine years. I took some time off after having my son, but then decided I wanted to go back to teaching when he was about 14 months old. I was so excited when I got the opportunity to come to Léman, where I started as an associate teacher and then a head teacher in PK3. 

What do you like about teaching PK3? 

Three-year-olds are capable of being independent but they are also like a sponge for information. I love that they get so excited about learning. Making friends and social interaction is new to them. When they’re one or two they are engaging in parallel play and they are not as aware as to how their actions make an impact on people, but at age three, they start to understand how their actions influence other people’s feelings. I love finding opportunities to teach them how to learn and play together with their friends and classmates.

How do you bring your background in developmental psychology into the classroom?

Each child has a different personality and there’s no right way to deal with every issue. You can tell every child the same thing, but they may not react in the same way. I think my background in psychology helps me think about what each child needs and tailor my approach based on each child’s personality and learning style. 

What do you think makes the Center for Early Childhood Education at Léman unique?

One of the things that makes Léman stand out among other schools is the fact that we go from 16 months old all the way through 12th grade. In the Early Childhood division, we spend a lot of time talking about what the students are doing in Lower School and Upper School so we can prepare them for when they ultimately graduate from the Early Childhood division and move up to the Lower School at Léman. There is a lot of ongoing conversation about the International Baccalaureate Profile and Habits and Attitudes of Learning standards and how we can integrate them into our classroom. We prepare them by teaching skills such as how to learn and be a good communicator, or how to take risks and be open-minded. It’s important that as an IB school we help the children prepare for what they’ll be learning in their future. 

Your son is currently in PK2 at Léman. What made you decide to send him here? 

I love all the teachers at Léman. They are so loving, but also have high expectations for all the students. Even though the teachers of the youngest children teach to their level, they don’t baby them. They remind them that they are here to learn. I wanted my son to have the opportunity to have that experience.  

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I love to make art and I take any opportunity to make things for my classroom. I also enjoy traveling and try to take any opportunity to travel with my family. My three-year-old loves to be outside so we are constantly exploring the city, going to museums, parks and zoos. That’s one of the things I love about living in New York City. There’s always something fun and educational to do together as a family.


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