This story originally ran April 12, but we wanted to republish it with Mrs. Hammer's retirement celebration on Friday.
Kathie Hammer is the director of Preschool in Dublin, a school attended by children in the Tri-Valley from San Ramon to Livermore.
In June, Hammer, a preschool teacher loved by all, is retiring after an 40 plus years at John Knox. She truly is an institution, and those children whose lives she has touched are very fortunate.
How did it all begin? When her youngest son was preschool-aged, Kathie enrolled him at John Knox. Other preschool teachers thought she had a knack for teaching and encouraged her to enroll in Early Childhood Education classes. Kathie did just that, and in 1972 she began teaching at John Knox. In 1980, Mrs. Hammer became the director of the preschool, in addition to continuing her teaching duties.
This year alone, ten of the current children attending John Knox have one parent who was taught by Hammer in her four decades of teaching. Hammer shares, “I can remember each one like it was yesterday. I have met former students in so many places and I am so thankful. I can always remember their names.”
What will she miss most about teaching, besides seeing her adoring preschoolers each day? She will definitely miss the singing, which is an integral part of the curriculum. Singing with children is just so much fun, for Hammer and her young students.
Hammer will also miss the feeling she gets knowing she is giving children their first start in their educational career, while also helping parents learn essential parenting skills. Since John Knox is a co-op, where parents actively volunteer, she said she will also miss the connection she shares with each parents who has entered the school.
Making the decision to retire was not an easy one. In fact, Hammer admits it is one of the hardest choices she has made. When school resumes again in September, Kathie will be welcoming her second great grandbaby into the world, who is due on Sept. 9.
It’s time for her to enjoy her grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s also time to travel! Last summer, Hammer and her husband spent a month as lighthouse keepers at the Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City. They met tourists from all over the world, and they plan to do this again! Hammer is also a nautical historian and looks forward to dedicating time to her boat club in Sausalito.
Traci Varanini is a parent to Eli, who is a current student and Ben who attended John Knox while in preschool. She is helping to organize Mrs. Hammer’s retirement celebration.
When reflecting on the veteran teacher's impact on her family, Varanini notes, “My kids always want to do good by Mrs. Hammer, so I use her name often in my house. Mrs. Hammer has dedicated her life to the preschool, but it is more than teaching kids, she has a special care and concern for each and every child.”
Traci adds, “She has become a part of our family and will always be welcomed into our home.”
Many local families have had their lives touched by Mrs. Hammer in the last 40 years. On Friday, May 11, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a retirement celebration will be held in her honor. All are invited! Current preschool families will provide the light food and desserts, and community members are needed to share their fond memories of Hammer as she is “sent off” into retirement!
A large crowd is anticipated for this worthy occasion, which is being held at in Dublin, located at 6800 Penn Drive.
If you were one of Hammer's preschoolers or your child was one of her students, please consider attending. Celebrate a triumphant career of more than four decades!