Blackboard Awards: Barbara Ciner, Life Lessons Before Kindergarten
By Juan DeJesus Starting your kids on the right path at an early age is always a top concern for parents. So when parents decide to send their children to the Adults and Children in Trust program at St. John Divine, they can rest assured that Barbara Ciner will empower their children with the skills necessary to survive. The 44-year-old teacher began her teaching career over a decade ago and has made it a point to teach with a deep understanding of each and every one of her students. "The quality that sticks out most in my mind is her amazing ability to know the children in her class," said Karin Kimbrough, whose two children were in Ciner's class in Morningside Heights. "She would take the time to understand how each one learned, what motivated them to apply themselves and what issues they have." Kimbrough was floored by her assessment and how well Ciner understood the children-how she got to know her sons' habits better than Kimbrough herself did. Ciner even gave Kimbrough some pointers that she still uses with her children today-well past pre-school. "In a way, the children are who they are going to be," Ciner said. "They have their own personality, likes and dislikes. All I want to do is give them the confidence and strength to be successful." Every morning, Ciner walks her classroom to make sure that each child has their own space and their own outlet for creativity. "I make sure the blocks are attractive for children who like to build and that every child has a place where they can interact and thrive," Ciner said. The teacher said she's honored to receive a Blackboard Award and is thrilled by the outpouring of support from parents. "It gave me chills," Ciner said. "I'm having an out-of-body experience right now. I don't like the spotlight." However, she makes sure each child has their own spotlight in order to thrive and develop in her classroom, a fact many parents appreciate. "I learned to respect and care about Ms. Barbara because she profoundly cared and respected the little minds she was shaping," said Janet Hernandez. "Ms. Barbara effectively prepared my [4-year-old] daughter and our preschoolers for the difficult process of entering into some of the most competitive kindergarten programs throughout the city, both private and public." Ciner is constantly trying to improve and follows the philosophy of avoiding rigidity in order to maximize the learning of her pupils. "I am now motivated to keep things fresh and to keep being a student of life," Ciner said. "When I was 13, my grandmother wrote a note in my yearbook which said, 'Lend your mind to learning and your heart to understanding.'" It's a philosophy that she strongly abides by and hopes to pass on to each and every student she encounters.
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