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Charlotte teacher discovers the story is all about her

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/27/12/09/1e92A7.Em.138.jpeg|316
    JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Three-year-old Kaden Newton applauds preschool teacher Myra Arbuckle’s surprise award on Friday. Arbuckle was chosen from 24,000 other early education teachers to receive a $10,000 award from Knowledge Universe, a national support organization for preschool education.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/27/12/09/kzAGT.Em.138.jpeg|210
    JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Myra Arbuckle got one hug after another, including this arms-thrown-wide hug from Harper Mays, 4, after winning a $10,000 award from Knowledge Universe. She learned about the award while reading a book that in front of students, fellow teachers and administrators at Park Road KinderCare.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/27/12/09/FR3UT.Em.138.jpeg|198
    JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Kim Doster, director of the Park Road KinderCare, congratulates Myra Arbuckle. Arbuckle has taught preschool there for about 30 years.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/27/12/09/JYap6.Em.138.jpeg|216
    JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Myra Arbuckle has taught preschool at the Park Road KinderCare for about 30 years and on Friday got the surprise of her teaching life. She was chosen from 24,000 other early education teachers to receive a $10,000 award from Knowledge Universe, a national support organization for preschool education. She learned about the award while reading a book in front of students, fellow teachers and administrators. Park Road KinderCare is at 3322 Park Road, Charlotte.

This book, Myra Arbuckle agreed, had a very happy ending.

Asked to read to her students Friday morning before a film crew at the Park Road KinderCare school, Arbuckle learned on the last page of the book that she had won a national preschool educator award worth $10,000.

“I almost couldn’t breathe,” Arbuckle, who has taught at the school for 30 years, said afterward.

She was named winner of the annual Early Childhood Educator Award presented by Knowledge Universe, which operates 1,700 private schools with more than 24,000 teachers.

Arbuckle said she was told in advance that a crew wanted to film her reading to the students, but she said the event made her nervous. “I wasn’t able to see the book in advance,” she said.

“She is truly an amazing teacher,” said KinderCare regional director Kim Mazzulo, who also was not aware of the award in advance. “She goes way above and beyond the curriculum. And she has such respect for the children.”

Arbuckle, 62, a Charlotte native, worked with younger children for several years before switching to preschoolers – ages 3 and 4 – about two decades ago. She says she hasn’t thought of changing jobs since.

“How many people wake up in the morning and can say, ‘I’m going to have fun on the job today. I’m going to enjoy myself,’” she said. “That’s how I feel every day.”

She says she never is totally comfortable with what and how she teaches.

“In my spare time, I’m always reviewing what I do, and how I could do things differently,” she said. “At this age, the children are so eager to learn. They inspire me.”

Kim Doster, director of the Park Road KinderCare, said Arbuckle occasionally is visited by high school and college students who were once a part of “Miss Myra’s” classrooms. “Seeing them return here is a lot of fun,” she said.

Arbuckle, who said she “doesn’t have a clue” what she will do with the $10,000, plans to spend the rest of her working days in the same place.

“It’s like a family here, and I feel like I’m helping children learn,” she said. “It’s a thrill.”

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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