Eastern Oregon University > Mountaineer Magazine > Alumni Stories > Kindergarten Queen

Kindergarten Queen

Kindergarten teacher Lynette Longchamps with her students.
Shoshone School District 2021 Teacher of the Year Lynette Longchamps, ’16, provides a firm foundation for kids from low-income
households to build social and educational success.

Katy Nesbitt

Somewhere between a miscommunication and the eagerness to start a new career, Lynette Longchamps found herself teaching kindergarten, a job she vowed to never have.

After graduating from EOU with a bachelor;s degree in education Longchamps interviewed for a third grade position in Shoshone, Idaho.

“After the interview I was told the job announcement was listed wrong, it was actually for kindergarten,” Longchamps said. “I needed to pay off student loans, so I took the job.”

While she said she had the utmost respect for kindergarten teachers, Longchamps didn’t think she had the patience for the job. 

“That first day—staring at 22 faces—I thought, what did I get myself into? I have to get them ready for first grade in nine months!”

Now in her sixth year, Longchamps wouldn’t change her position for the world.

“I love the growth I get to see them go from babies to independence. It’s fantastic to watch the confidence that grows in them,” Longchamps said.

From her earliest memories, Longchamps knew she wanted to teach. She grew up in the northern Nevada town of Battle Mountain and attended Boise State University before transferring to EOU to study English for Speakers of Other Languages and complete the teaching program.

Longchamps said she teaches in a Title 1 school, meaning 40 percent of enrollment or more are from low-income families. Many of the children have no preschool education, so to prepare 20 or more children for first grade with no para-professional help is a tall order, but she has some tried and true methods to keep order and deliver the children’s lessons.

To get their attention, Longchamps rings a doorbell she wears around her neck.

“As soon as they hear it, they put their hands on their heads and eyes on me to listen for directions,” Longchamps said.

It takes training to have 20 kids with different rhythms at home work as a cohesive unit. 

Longchamps keeps a stack of M&Ms on her desk and feeds her students large doses of compliments and positive feedback.

“Praise is huge for my little people, but treats don’t hurt!” Longchamps said.

She said teaching young children is all about the little processes.

Longchamps said, “Just to teach kids to raise their hands before they talk takes six or seven steps!”

Once her students get into the rhythm of Ms. Longchamps’ kindergarten class, they readily adapt.

“They love their routine,” Longchamps said. “If I miss something, they ask for it.”

Favorite class time activities, Longchamps said, include timed math tests, being the line leader or even better, the line caboose who gets to hold the door as the students walk out to the buses.

The rudimentary lessons of kindergarten are so integral in the preparation for the entire K-12 existence, and Longchamps said she wants to give her students a solid foundation for entering school.

“Everyone remembers their kindergarten teacher,” Longchamps said. “Every person I ever talked to since I took this job said they remember her name and they always have fond memories. I would like to give that to my kids.”

“Everyone remembers their kindergarten teacher. Every person I ever talked to since I took this job said they remember her name and they always have fond memories.”

– Lynette Longchamps, ’16

Her commitment, dedication and passion for her work has not gone unnoticed. In May of 2021, the students, parents and staff at her school recognized her as Teacher of the Year. 

Longchamps said her reward as a kindergarten teacher goes beyond the accolades and the progress her students make during their first year in a formal education environment. 

“They teach me acceptance,” Longchamps said. “I’ve had some tough students—like a table flipper—and the other kids take them in with their whole heart and love them with genuine joy.”

Longchamps may not have felt prepared for the busyness of five year-olds, but she said she did feel prepared to face a career as a teacher after graduating from EOU.

When she started in Shoshone she was one of four brand new teachers.

“I knew what the programs in the schools were and that first year I never felt uneasy or had a lot of questions,” Longchamps said.

She even had colleagues tell her she was well-prepared for her first year and said she’s happy with her decision to go to EOU.

“My professors had a love for education, for kids and for making us the best educators we could be,” Longchamps said.