“Never do anything for a child that they are perfectly capable of doing on their own; for when you do, you rob them of the opportunity of feeling competent. Feeling confident creates self-esteem.”
This is one of the many sound pieces of advice you’d hear often in Jacque Verrall’s kindergarten classroom at Maplewood K-8 Cooperative in Edmonds. For 20 years, she taught there, gaining respect and admiration from kids, guardians and colleagues. Jacque announced her retirement this year.
When asked about her fondest memory, she responded, “I never had just one. Things happen every day in kindergarten that makes one smile or chuckle.”
A favorite Verrall quote among the families was: “What happens in kindergarten stays in kindergarten.” This was her simple yet effective way of reassuring nervous, first-time kindergarten families that everything was OK. You instantly gained her trust and knew your child was in good hands. She was the perfect balance of stern yet loving, and she was more than happy to offer a comforting hug if a teary, overwhelmed or tired child needed it. They always say there is no manual in parenting, but many believed she was the closest source.
Jacque began her teaching journey at a cooperative preschool and did so for 22 years. She later got her certification for K-12 and started at Maplewood shortly thereafter. “I had many great mentors along the way and learned so much,” she said.
In 2011, Mrs. Verrall finished her master’s degree on the importance of “Choice Time” (free play) in kindergarten. She was a strong advocate for “play” as a way to teach students what they needed to know.
When the time came for her to retire, families knew they needed to give her a farewell fit for a queen — a Kindergarten Queen. She was, after all, a legend on campus. On Tuesday, June 15, a luxurious, red velvet chair adorned with balloons awaited her arrival. She proudly donned her “Kindergarten Queen” sash as she gracefully took her seat. This was her moment, and she took it all in.
At 4:30 p.m., at least 50 decorated cars lined 200th Street Southwest in Edmonds and flooded into the carpool lane. Former students and families waited patiently for their chance to say their “thank yous” and “goodbyes.” It was a windy “Juneuary” day, but the large, ominous-looking rain cloud that hugged the Puget Sound stayed away — almost as if it knew this was Jacque’s day, and it couldn’t be ruined. The warm sun beamed just as she did when cars drove up. Her smile and joy was infectious. Kids excitedly hopped out of their vehicles holding flowers, homemade cards and signs. They were hopeful to get their picture with her, and she was happy to oblige.
“I was full of gratitude for such a wonderful community of parents and students. It was so fun to see former students and receive so many heartfelt notes,” she said. “I will forever be grateful for the wonderful principals I’ve worked with and for all the great families who let me become a part of their lives.”
Happy trails to you, Mrs. Verrall. We will see you around soon.
— By Christi Mullet, Maplewood K-8 Cooperative