After more than 35 years of teaching children through play and imagination, Linda Reimond officially retired this summer. In typical fashion, however, she will continue to share her love of PLAY not only in teaching classes, but also through the newly established “Linda Reimond Early Childhood Assistance Fund.”
The fund, which will provide $500 a year to assist Early Childhood Education students with tuition, was established by the Lawrence Arts Center Board of Directors to honor Reimond and to further the mission of the program, whose motto is “Guardians of Childhood.”
“When we think about all of the pieces of the Arts Center, we know that the Early Childhood program is a shining star here,” said board president Margie Wakefield. “We wanted to present Linda with what we thought would be the best things to safeguard her legacy as the Guardian of Childhood.”
The board established the fund with $5,000 contributed by current and past board members as well as admirers and fans, and surprised Reimond with the announcement during her retirement celebration Aug. 6.
Katie Winter, a former preschool student at the Arts Center whose children also attended the program, said Reimond’s educational philosophy was simple: to inspire. She said Reimond’s gift was to encourage others to come up with their own ideas and then give them the opportunity to explore those ideas with full support and the freedom to make mistakes. Winter said she intends to maintain that philosophy into the future.
“Our generation is committed to keeping that message relevant in Lawrence,” she said. “We will not just resist the educational forces of standardization and conformity in our own households, but will actively promote the values of curiosity and play and originality in our community.”
Board member Isabel Johnson called the Arts Center’s Early Childhood Education program an “especially bright light” and credited her own experience in an arts-based preschool as the main reason she is now an educator and arts supporter.
She said the decision to honor Reimond by establishing this educational fund was a tribute to the positive impact she has had on countless children over the years.
“Linda leaves a true legacy of excellence and of building happy memories by herself embodying and in turn leading others in sharing the spirit of joyful, playful creative self-expression through the arts,” Johnson said. “In this way, Linda has touched the lives of so many young children and their families who have been nurtured and enriched by her magical approach to early learning.”
Wakefield said she hoped the fund would continue to support children in the Early Childhood Education program for decades to come. Anyone interested in contributing to the fund can do so by contacting Development Director Cindy Hart at email@example.com or via the website and note the gift is in honor of Linda Reimond.
“Linda built this program with joy, and inspiration, and a heck of a lot of hard work,” Wakefield said. “We thank her from the bottom of our hearts.”