SAN FRANCISCO – We've heard a lot about California recruiting to fill a shortage of teachers with more than 10,000 vacancies in the last school year, according to the state commission that does credentialing.
One San Francisco native hasn't lost the joy of teaching, as she starts her 42nd year teaching kindergarten.
For Yvonne Soracco, walking the campus hallways is like turning pages in a scrapbook of her career. The frames on the top row show students she's taught over the decades.
She has her own page in history at Saints Peter and Paul Salesian Parochial School.
Soracco herself is a graduate who returned as a college student to teach half-day kindergarten.
"Back in the day, it was more play, with introducing letters and numbers," she explained.
And she got hooked. "I grew to love working with the little kids," she smiled.
The San Francisco native earned her teaching credential and became a full-time kindergarten teacher at the 98-year-old private school.
She's taught more than four decades in the same classroom, where she instructed her own three children, past students' children, and hundreds of others.
"Just being with kids is .. they're magical. When you're with the little ones, they just want to learn and have fun," she said.
Soracco said she has seen many changes in kindergarten: no longer just for playtime and religious learning, it's developed into a full day with a core academic curriculum.
For every day she has the kids in her care, she says she's building a foundation.
"So as they grow and learn, those fundamental skills are embedded in them. That's my goal in life," Soracco said.
She has also survived the biggest challenge of her career: persevering through the pandemic.
"Whatever needed to be done, we just pushed and pushed and pushed," she recalled.
Soracco had to become a student of Zoom, and through trial and error, she found creative strategies to keep her student engaged using supplemental videos and music, and taking brain breaks.
"Now that Zoom is no longer an option, it's like, 'Whew!' I don't know if I could re-do it. It was such a traumatic time," she said.
She is thankful for parental and school support through that tough time.
This fall, Soracco looking forward to 20 new kindergarteners. She also has no plans to retire, saying she enjoys her school community.
The longtime kindergarten teacher recalls of the joy of seeing former students who once filled these chairs.
"They all came over, saw me, realized it was me. ALL of them gave me a hug, you're a part of their life. You're an important part of their life," she said. "I just like to think I'm the spark that got them going."
And that keeps Yvonne Soracco going, as she welcomes another class of her "kindergarten stars," and gives them a foundation to shine.
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