Gail Shapiro is no stranger to early education. She has master’s degree in early education and was a preschool teacher in Connecticut for a time. When she was introduced to the Early Head Start programs at Child Crisis Arizona it seemed like a perfect place for her to volunteer.

For three years Gail has been volunteering once a week in a classroom with 3, 4 and 5 year old students preparing for kindergarten.

“I remember asking why we didn’t put the 4 and 5 year olds in one class and 3 to 4.5 year olds in another,” she said. “It was explained to me it’s a social program. The older kids instruct the younger kids. I see how it works and blossoms. Every time a new class comes in, the little babies are taken under the wings of the older ones and it’s beautiful. The program is fabulous”

During her time volunteering Gail reads to the students, plays with toys or on the playground with them, and helps with crafts and different activities. Gail said she loves that each activity is a learning opportunity for the kids. The best part is the relationship with the children.

“It’s like a standing ovation every day,” she said. “It’s incredible. Listening to what they do, giving the extra hug–it gives you way more than you give them.”

If Gail had any advice for people considering volunteering it would be to do it.
“It’s my favorite day of the week when I know I’m going there,” she said. “As long as I’m physically able I’m going to return. Don’t hesitate to jump in!”