Story & Photos by LISA ANDERSON
Anne Seufert has always had an affinity towards children. “My goal was to get married and have kids. So, that’s what I did.”
This mother of three—twins and a singleton—didn’t set out to be a schoolteacher, but the perfect path presented itself. “When my youngest went to kindergarten, I knew I needed to go back to work. I wanted to do a job where I didn’t have to get daycare. I wanted [my kids] with me. I blessedly got into the school where they [attended], so I had my weekends off. I had winter break, spring break, summer break, evenings—you know, everything they had.
I’ve always loved education. I love school, especially elementary school, which is where I stayed. So, it was a no-brainer.”
Beginning the Journey
Anne started her career as a tutor. She would work in seven different classrooms, spending about 30 minutes with each class. When the program was cut back two years later, Anne became a classroom sub. Each day, she would go to the school, and they would direct her where to go. If all the teachers were present, she would simply do administrative work.
Later that year, a dream position opened up when a colleague left to have a baby. Anne immediately stepped into the position of kindergarten paraprofessional (kinder para) and never left. She has spent 27 years in the Marion County school system.
“I don’t think parents realize how much we invest in their children. They don’t realize how much love grows for them. I have loved thousands of children in my career.”— Anne Seufert
“I think people think we’re just the assistant. I do a whole lot of teaching, especially when I’m working with teachers who treat you as a team member. A big part of what you do is teaching [the kids] life skills, coping mechanisms, and social skills—all those things that make a well-rounded person.”
She has also been teaching students writing skills since 2005. It’s one of her favorite things to do. By the end of the year, her students have put together a journal, and they often have a leg up on their peers when entering first grade. “My goal is to teach them to be independent,” Anne explains. She wants the students to know how to form full sentences and to start using punctuation, without depending on her to do it for them.
For the Love of Music
Anne has been immersed in music since childhood. “My mom learned to play the guitar as an adult, and she had a beautiful voice.
“We used to have hootenannies at our house. People would come over, and they’d play all night long. They’d play until four o’clock in the morning. So that was really cool.”
She started singing with her mom, who also taught Anne how to play the guitar. When they’d sing together, her mom would call it “blood harmony,” because voices are so similar when singing with family. “There were times when we’d we sing together, the hair would stand up on the back of my neck, because it’s just like this electric energy. I miss that, because she’s not around anymore.”
Anne added flute to the mix during junior high, and she has continued with it as an adult. She can also play “a mean tambourine.”
In 2013, Anne decided to teach Kindermusik, which was a perfect way for her to use her musical skills. The curriculum originated in Germany and was founded in 1978. “It involves immersing [the children] through movement, music, and exposure. [The program is] all about the whole child. It starts at newborn and goes up to age seven.
“Music, more than anything, gets the neurotransmitters connected and makes pathways that wouldn’t ordinarily be there,” Anne explains. She goes on to say this can give a child a leg-up when they enter school, especially if they pursue music. The parents play a large role in the experience, and many of them were there, primarily, as another way to connect with their child.
Anne continued working as a kinder para during the day and then would teach five Kindermusik classes three evenings per week. The toddlers would play musical laps and place instruments in their mouths. When the pandemic came, she didn’t feel it was responsible to continue the classes. She also didn’t feel connected to the students teaching them online, so she shut down her program. At this time, she is uncertain of when or if she’ll open it back up, but the experience definitely holds a special place in her heart.
Planning for the Future
Another favorite part of teaching for Anne is watching the students get excited about the things they are learning, “and hugs. Where else can you go to work and get unconditional love and hugged a million times a day?” she asks.
She plans to continue in her career until she is at least 65 years old. In 2020, Anne took part in the Adopt-a-Senior program for the graduating class. One of the students she adopted had been a student of hers in kindergarten. She began crying when she talked about the letter the senior wrote about the huge impact she had on his life. “You sit there and wonder, did I make a difference?” The answer is yes.
“I don’t think parents realize how much we invest in their children. They don’t realize how much love grows for them. I have loved thousands of children in my career.”