May Webster, a pre-school teacher at Lennox State Preschool/Whelan, is inspired by the seemingly little moments in a child’s life that will make a huge difference. When a young boy in her class started to write his name in clear, legible letters after spending months only writing scribbles, the smile on his face made her day. She knew that the pride he felt in this accomplishment would help him as he moves along in his education.
Webster spends her days going the extra mile to bring out those moments of pride in her students. She teaches them geography, how to write letters of the alphabet and is learning Spanish so she can better communicate with her students’ parents. Webster’s efforts in the classroom earned her Teacher of the Year from Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit that provides high quality pre-school education for Los Angeles County children.
According to her supervisor, she arrives early, leaves late and makes it a priority to promote “health, literacy, math and self-confidence” in her students.
Webster’s love of teaching began as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, when she mentored students in nearby elementary schools. In 2010, she joined Teach for America and began two years of intensive leadership development and then went on to complete her masters in early childhood development at Loyola Marymount University. “Teach For America has taught me a lot about the inequity in education and has empowered me to work towards closing the achievement gap,” said Webster. “Their mission is to ensure that one day all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.” A native of Mercer Island, Washington, Webster said she is proud of receiving this award, but she is mostly grateful for the attention it may give to the importance of early childhood education. Universal preschool and giving all children a chance at learning is one of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ priorities, who is chairman of First 5 LA, an organization that funds LA Up.
“Those first five years of life there is unbelievable brain development,” said Webster. “The growth of this cognitive and social development of the brain helps so much in the later years of education.”