After more than a quarter-century as a preschool teacher, Darla Pulliam has taught many children how to master their A-B-C’s, 1-2-3’s, play nice and share.
That’s all very important, of course, but it’s not the reason she was chosen as the Second District’s 2015 Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) Teacher of the Year.
With motherly devotion, the Culver City Unified School District Office of Child Development teacher and curriculum liaison has been able to drill into her very young students a powerful lesson that should carry them far in life – she taught them to believe in themselves.
“I want to instill in children an I-can-do-anything attitude as they discover the world around them,” Pulliam said in an interview with CCUSD.
That was evident on a recent day at the campus playground, when her entire class, squealing with excitement, gave her a group hug and then, together, chanted: “Can we do it? Yes, we can!”
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas paid tribute to Pulliam in a ceremony at the Hall of Administration. “By recognizing that preschool is the foundation for all education, you are giving the children of the Second District a better chance at a successful future,” he told her.
Pulliam was not much older than her students when she first decided to become an early education teacher, inspired by her mother, who operated a day care from home.
“I feel blessed that I’ve always known what my calling is in life,” Pulliam said in a video prepared by LAUP. “The best part of the day for me is seeing the light in the children’s eyes – and their smile, because it warms my soul.”
“Darla is a great teacher, she is exceptional, she is gentle,” said Susan Stolting, a parent. “My son comes out (of preschool every day) happy that he has achieved a lot for himself, for his self-esteem – he’s much more independent now. It’s such a relief to know he’s in good hands.”