Nine beaming children with rosy cheeks file in through the door; the tenth child, too tired from her time spent on the playground, rests in the arms of the vivacious group’s teacher. As the children rush to the water fountain, their teacher gingerly lifts up each to the too-tall fountain, making sure every student has the chance to get a drink.
What may seem chaotic for some is just an average Wednesday for teacher Elizabeth Flynn, who started Ross Community Center’s preschool with the help of community partners.
Although still a senior at Ball State, Flynn serves as the lead, and only, teacher there.
Flynn’s love for kids began at an early age. With her mother running a daycare from their home for 22 years, she has always been exposed to children. After numerous babysitting jobs, working in children’s ministry, and student teaching her senior year of high school, Flynn knew pursuing a degree in child development was the right choice.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with kids,” she said.
Originally, Flynn was not keen on the idea of becoming a teacher; instead, she wanted to focus on the administrative side of child development. However, as Flynn began to search for an internship, she was led to the Ross Center.
The preschool is located in the community of Thomas Park Avenue, where, according to Building Better Neighborhoods of Ball State, the annual median household income is $25,234, and 33 percent of adults over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma. With Flynn’s help, every child has the opportunity to attend preschool.
“She is passionate about the concept that the early years of life are formative, and that each child deserves a good start,” said Kresha Warnock, a former professor and one of Flynn's role models.
Starting the school was not a simple task.
Flynn worked alongside community partners for two months to raise funds, set up the classroom, and prepare for the arrival of the youngsters.
“Elizabeth is able to overcome any challenge set before her using her intellect, creativity, and resources,” said Jennifer Young, another of Flynn’s former professors and mentors.
As the clock strikes 12:30 p.m., Flynn bids goodbye to her “friends,” as she calls her students, promising they will be back the next morning for more fun.