When I saw Miss Susie in action, I decided that this would be the school for my kindergartner. A whirlwind of love and efficiency, she embodied an ideal of early childhood education: energetic, dedicated, organized, and as maniacally inspired as her young charges. Later I wondered what had come over me. During the school tour, I took no notice of the other classes or teachers — as if my little girl would be five forever, living and breathing those Play-Doh fumes till the end of time.
According to a new study, this isn’t quite so demented as it seems. Why? As reported in the New York Times, a new analysis of a long-term study of nearly 12,000 children from Tennessee suggests that a great kindergarten teacher has a long-term impact on your life and, specifically, your earnings.
The economists found that children with kindergarten teachers who were able to make the greatest academic gains for their students earned more than peers with lower-performing teachers. How big a difference? By age 27, an annual salary bonus of $1,000 — and climbing from there. The bottom line, say the researchers: An exceptional kindergarten teacher is worth some $320,000 a year.
What’s the secret economic sauce dished out by great kindergarten teachers? Top-notch literacy lessons? The value of persistence, sharing, and patience? The researchers don’t know. But if your children have or had great kindergarten teachers, you might want to thank them for the income they’ll be contributing to your family long after the circle song has been forgotten.