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Carly Gilbert radiates with passion when she talks about the kids she teaches. She shines when she discusses the lesson plans she prepares and discoveries her students make during her classes. And for one moment you almost forget Gilbert is still a child.

“It started when I was 6,” she says, sitting in a big stuffed chair in her living room. “I’d pretend to teach all my stuffed animals and dolls. I just loved it.”

They decorated her room like a classroom, and in fifth grade, Gilbert told one of her teachers at Running River School that she wanted to be a teacher. To her surprise, they let her teach a lesson. Today, 12-year-old Gilbert teaches a science lesson to the school’s younger students once a week. She spent two summers helping at the Homestar Child Development Center preschool. She’s also working on an independent study, visiting area preschools to explore philosophies and facilities.

Gilbert pauses and thinks about why she likes teaching.

“Well, I love little kids. When I teach them, they are so happy and joyful,” she says, a smile tugging at the corners of
her mouth.

Running River Director Nancy Monson says Gilbert has a natural connection with younger children. Her parents are astonished at her responsibility and accountability and awed by her sense of direction. She says she constantly learns from her teachers—not just the lessons of the day but communication, presentation and connections in the classroom. It’s not rare for her to give her teachers constructive criticism. Gilbert is astutely perceptive: She notes other students’ learning styles as well as her teachers’ teaching styles.

“I see what I can do the same and what I can do differently,” she says.

Still, she’s fully aware her teachers have helped inspire her love of education.

“I’ve had the most amazing teachers. They’ve taught me so much, and we have such great relationships,” she says. “Even when I don’t love a subject, the teacher will get me into it.”

Science is her favorite subject, and Gilbert says she loves how she can point students in a direction and let them explore. She enjoys allowing her students to be creative and to let them immerse themselves into the lesson.

“With science, there is so much to learn: It’s so hands on, stuff can blow up and change, and there are ways to make the lessons longer,” she says.

Gilbert is smart and driven—and she’s been given an opportunity to dive into her passion. Together, this has allowed her to begin forming her own theories on education, teaching and students—even though she’s not even a teenager. She knows one day, she wants to be a teacher. Then she wants to travel the world to collect the philosophies and teachings of schools globally, and then she plans to start a preschool based on what she has learned. But she is already anchored in certain principles.

“If I can teach kids just a few things, it’s to teach them to communicate. I want to have a good relationship with all of them, to tell me what they need from me,” she says. “And I will never tell a kid that they are not smart. They are all special.”

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email no info send march17th/09

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