Depending on which student you ask, kindergarten volunteer Marcia Tilford is also known as Miss Pillow (because she’s so soft) or Miss Beautiful (for obvious reasons). You can easily tell how deep her roots run at Thousand Oaks based on how comfortable past and present students are around her, as demonstrated by older students running to her and gleefully saying “I remember you!” After retiring and moving back into her childhood home nearly nine years ago, Marcia was paired up with kindergarten teacher Libby Trumbull at her very own elementary school, Thousand Oaks Elementary, and it’s been a match made in heaven ever since. “Every year, every class is my new favorite and I can’t imagine the next year topping them. Somehow, every year they do! They’re all just so wonderful,” says Marcia.
Being a volunteer in a kindergarten classroom is not for the faint of heart. On any given day, there are freeze dances to keep up with, managing big feelings about breakfast and hunger, and restorative justice conversations about personal boundaries. Miss Marcia is there for all of it. She’s working one on one with a brand new student, making her laugh as they work on letter and number writing together. She’s jumping in to support last minute art prep. Every time Miss Libby asks, “Can you help me with something?” Marcia’s response is, “That’s what I’m here for!” with a genuine smile.
Her support doesn’t go unnoticed! After nine years working together, Miss Libby and Miss Marcia have the easy rapport of two friends that clearly appreciate each other. Libby knows that Marcia is someone she can rely on. She even switched her art instruction days to Thursdays so she could have Marcia in the room! They are each other’s sounding board as they debrief after the day or the lesson. Libby comments that while she is always in “Teacher Mode” with students, juggling many hats and sometimes facilitating tough conversations, what is wonderful about having Marcia around is that she gets to come in and simply be a warm, comforting adult presence. “Kids need that. Kids need both.”
Our Thousand Oaks students are lucky to have such a lovely volunteer in Marcia. To many more years, Marcia!