Grace L. Mitchell was my professional mentor, my motivator, my cheerleader, my role model, and my friend. She was a pioneering day care provider in 1933 when she founded the Green Acres Day School in her apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts, in order to remain close to her young son, Lee, and to continue her career in teaching. She was a dynamic educator who believed in child-centered learning, where activities and learning situations emerged from the interests and questions of children. Grace L. Mitchell has been recognized as one of the most influential education professionals in the country. At 70 she received her doctorate degree from Antioch College. She authored several books, “I AM! I Can! A Preschool Curriculum,” “A Very Practical Guide to Discipline,” “The Day Care Book,” “Fundamentals of Day Camping,” and was a sought-after speaker at early childhood conferences around the country. Her message to children, and to the adults who care for them, was always, “I am, I can.” She challenged adults to live up to their highest potential and stretch their awareness. She said, “Life is a process of becoming. My greatest satisfaction is the joy of having been a part in helping other people grow.”
Ten Commandments for Teachers is from Dr. Grace Mitchell. It is timeless, and a wonderful posting in our early childhood facilities. It is concise, and yet filled with best practices and positive values. Embedded in Grace’s words, you can hear her philosophy, visualize her dramatic flair, and understand the depth and breadth of her teaching. We, who worked with her, were deeply inspired. She ignited our passion of caring for and educating young children and we immersed ourselves in this field – always stretching, always growing.
Here, then, are the Ten Commandments:
- Thou shalt pay honor and respect to the children in thy care, treating them with the same courtesy thou wouldst accord a guest in they home.
- Never, never, never in all the days of your employment wilt thou strike, shake, or physically manhandle a child.
- Thou shalt not embarrass, ridicule, or humiliate a child with words or actions.
- Thou shalt not raise thy voice to call across the room or playground to a child or colleague, but will instead walk over and speak directly to him.
- Order and cleanliness are refreshing to the spirit, therefore thou shalt make clean-up a part of the children’s daily program.
- Respect for property is a lesson to be learned at an early age; therefore thou shalt not dump “dress-up” clothes, musical instruments, blocks or toys in cartons, but will make a “place for everything and everything in its place.”
- Thou shalt not decorate thy walls with “cute” look-alike art projects.
- Music and singing soothe the spirit and bring joy into daily living but singing is not shouting; therefore thou shalt not be heard saying “Louder! I can’t hear you! Sing Louder!”
- Not so much as by the lifting of an eyebrow, the shrug of a shoulder or a remark wilt thou express contempt for a fellow worker, but when angered or annoyed seek to know him better or start a positive rumor.
- Consider carefully the image you project to children, for they look upon you with respect and will seek to copy your speech, mannerisms, walk and dress.
Grace’s books are still available on Amazon.com. They are some of my most treasured “teacher” and “director” resources – and I invite you to take a look at them. Get to know “Amazing Grace.” You, too, may be inspired by this extraordinary woman.