Voices from the Field: Interview with Connie Hall

The Importance of Kindergarten

Connie Hall

Connie Hall is a Kindergarten teacher in Sparks, Nevada and was named the 2023 Nevada State Teacher of the Year, the 2019 Certified Employee of the Year for Washoe County School District and has received two Certificates of Commendation from United States (Nevada) Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Minor in Common Core State Standards from Concordia University-Portland in Portland, Oregon. In addition to teaching, Hall serves on the school Leadership Team, is the Director of Comprehensive Children’s Activities: Global Coordination & Early Childhood Interest for Messages of Hope International Ministries, serves on the Nevada State Superintendent’s Teacher Advisor Cabinet, is a Nevada Kindergarten Think Tank member, and Washoe County Early Childhood Advisory Council member.

How did you begin your career in early childhood?

As a young child, I remember “playing school” and teaching my stuffed animals and my dolls how to read. I’m also the daughter of an educator, my mom was a principal and teacher for 44 years. Around the age of 10 or 11, I would do a Mother’s Day out for some of the young mothers in our area. I would have them bring their children to our home and I would watch them for a couple of hours. It was something I wanted to do for them, and they really appreciated it.

During my freshman year in high school, I had an opportunity at the YWCA in our area to provide childcare for mothers enrolled in their parenting classes.

By the time I was getting ready for college, and considering a major, I knew that I liked working with the younger kids. I decided that I was going to study early childhood education. I liked that it covered nursery to 3rd grade, which a lot of people don’t realize. I eventually chose a double major, adding elementary education. While in my first early childhood education class in college, I felt like I was at home. It just blossomed from there, and after graduating from college I worked at a Learning Center and then I moved on to Pre-K and kindergarten.

What efforts have you been involved in to improve the quality of early childhood programs and services?

Over the years I’ve always tried to be an advocate for early childhood. I think that the field was sometimes misunderstood, and a lot of people felt that we were babysitters getting paid. I wanted to remove that stigma and highlight the importance of early childhood and early learning.

I started by doing some presentations. Some of them were for parents, including moms of preschoolers, that was where my heart was.

I’ve been on various councils including the Northern Nevada Early Childhood Education Council, and on round tables for New America. One of my passions is getting involved with a lot of the different councils and programs because I want the administration and others on the district level to see the importance of kindergarten and that it’s necessary and respected all across the country. Kindergarten should be mandatory.

I want to be a voice for change in the field of early childhood. I want parents to understand that kindergarten is not glorified babysitting, and that the students are capable of doing so much, including our youngest learners.

Everything is just a progression, it’s not that you have to know everything overnight, but just that there is a progression. Children are able and capable to do more than they’re given credit for. I like to bring that out in my students, and I like to show parents, administrators, and others what early childhood is all about and why kindergarten is so important.

What are some of the challenges that you have experienced in your work and what strategies have you tried to overcome them?

One of my first challenges when I started out with teaching was that some parents thought I was a child. I started wearing my glasses because without my glasses on I looked really young.

I also dealt with race when I was in classrooms. I was a teacher of color and all of the students that I worked with were not like me. There were families that did not want me to work with their children. That was a big challenge. It is a lot when you’re working in environments where you’re the only one and you don’t have other coworkers that are like you. Then I decided that —, I’m going to focus on my students. I’m going to focus on those families that appreciate what I’m doing and respect me as an educator. I had to put the other things behind me because I was wanting to walk away.

One of my other challenges, is getting across the message that kindergarten should be mandatory and that the class sizes in kindergarten should be smaller because of what we’re actually doing for kids. If we had smaller numbers of students in each class, we would be able to do more with each student. Kindergarten is their first formal experience with school, and we have a lot to introduce them to in order to get them on the right track for their educational career.

What suggestions do you have for others who want to better support our youngest student?

I think that some of our administrators or those that make the decisions, should be in a kindergarten classroom for a day, to see what takes place and watch the interactions and how kids learn. I think doing this would help that so that every decision they make is made with those children in mind.

I think administrators, if they don’t have an early childhood background, should have to get some training. For example, they would know the importance of having a housekeeping center — that it’s a part of learning. They should also have this training before being able to evaluate an early childhood teacher, or they should have somebody to come with them that is in early childhood because without that knowledge, they’re not really going to understand what is taking place.

I think that sometimes those doing research should be sitting and talking to the teachers that are in the classrooms working with the children. Teachers getting that support is important, and they can provide valuable information that should be respected.

I proudly say that I’m an early childhood educator because I see the things that I’m able to do with children at a young age and get them on a good path. Recently, I was invited to the White House to be recognized in the spring at a service in the Rose Garden. After the service, I had a tap on my shoulder and heard “Hi, Mrs. Hall”. I looked, and it was a student that I taught who is now the producer for President Biden’s media and the White House. My former student: “What you instilled in me has helped me feel that I could do what I’m doing today here at the White House”. That was just a proud teacher moment. I have tried to raise the bar of early childhood and I have appreciated becoming a respected educator.

I’m very passionate, about education and the relationships I develop with children and families are a big key to my success. A lot of my students and their families have become my family. I don’t stop at 3:30, what I teach goes beyond 180 days. How much I love, and care goes on a lifetime.

Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.


  1. Connie Hall’s journey in early childhood education truly resonates with me. As a parent, I’ve witnessed the transformative impact that a dedicated kindergarten teacher can have on a child’s learning journey. It’s heartening to see educators like Connie advocating for the importance of kindergarten and working tirelessly to dispel misconceptions about the field. Her commitment to creating a positive early learning environment is commendable, and her experiences highlight the need for greater understanding and support for kindergarten education. I wholeheartedly agree that administrators should spend a day in a kindergarten classroom to truly grasp the dynamics and importance of this foundational stage. As a community, we should recognize and value the significant role kindergarten teachers play in shaping the future of our children.

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