We all find our ‘calling’ in different ways. Sometimes we know from childhood that we want to teach, or help others in the medical field, or perhaps pursue our artistic abilities. But for Edna Harding, retiring Clemmons Moravian Preschool Director, her love for children began not only as a mother herself, but after taking care of teachers’ children during the school year, so she could have the summers off to travel and spend time with her family.
“I was raised in Winston-Salem, NC, and have lived in Clemmons, NC, in the same house for 51 years. My husband passed away in 2009, and I have two children and two grandchildren, and many years ago I kept the children of several teachers, having my summers off to travel on small vacations. I started working at Clemmons Moravian as a substitute, then a teacher’s assistant, working my way up the ladder, teaching three-year-olds for nine years, eventually becoming the preschool’s fourth director in 1984,” recalled Edna. As director, Edna has the day to day responsibilities that you would imagine, but she also believes that she should be the face that the children see each morning as they come to school.
“I welcome the children each morning when they arrive. I want the children to have a connection with me, knowing that if they ever need help or are hurt, that they can come to me for help. We have Mother’s Mornings Out, for one to two-year-olds and then 1/2 day preschool for up to five-year-olds. Although I’m not sure of the number of children I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being a part of their lives, I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 32 years here. When I am out in the community, I often have adults come up to me and say, ‘I know you don’t remember me, but I went to Clemmons Moravian Preschool.’ We even have second generations now in the school. It’s hard to tell you what my time here has meant to me. One of my fondest memories, as I prepare for retirement, was each year on my birthday, a teacher would have the children in her class make birthday cards, and she would get small little gifts for them to give to me. We’d have a party, and they would sing to me. The purpose of the time wasn’t to necessarily honor me, but to teach them that on special days like birthdays, we honor those we love and care about…I’ll miss that time with the children,” Edna said.
After serving her community in her role as preschool director, and a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader in the past, you might think that Edna would want to take some time away from working with children upon her retirement, but that isn’t the case. “I feel like it is time to step away and enjoy one of my favorite things to do: work with flowers and plants. There’s no better therapy than digging in the dirt for me. I also will be volunteering in the public schools to read to children. I own 500 children’s books, and I love to spend one-on-one time with children. Families are so busy these days, that children may not get the time they need and I want to help in that area,” commented Edna. As she leaves her position at Clemmons Moravian Preschool, Edna has no doubt the new director, Angela Hicks, will do a wonderful job.
“Angela has been here at the school for several years as the communications director and the teachers know and love her. My wish is for a smooth transition, and I have every confidence that with Angela that will be the case. She shares my love for the children that are here and in helping them in any way they may need. I will miss my time here, but I know I will continue to be in the lives of children in some capacity and get a little digging in the dirt done, too!” Edna stated.