It all started 13 years ago….
I was in junior year of high school and deciding what I wanted to be. Writing that sentence makes it sound extremely simple, but deciding what you want to do for “THE REST OF YOUR LIFE” is difficult when you have only begun and are 17 years old. The decision 17-year-old me made was to be a teacher; Not because a previous teacher inspired me or I had huge dreams to change the world, but because there was something to prove. I wanted to do this teaching thing right. My history in school wasn’t the best, and I felt it would have been a more positive experience if my teachers had given more to the process, or had more will to work through it.
Turns out that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
This decision to become a teacher put me on a career path that turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. From teacher intern class during senior year of high school and throughout my Practicums at Longwood, my professors helped me become the educator I am today. My mindset changed. I DID want to change the world and WAS inspired by my teachers from that point on.
After graduating from Longwood University in 2010 with my Bachelor’s degree, there was a HUGE teacher layoff and limited jobs. A school system wouldn’t even look at me, let alone call me for an interview. Finally, a child care center took a chance on an inexperienced college graduate and trained me for a year before letting me lead my own classroom.
This is where I learned how to work with families of young children.
EVERYDAY the parents would drop their students off in my classroom and I would get a chance to talk to them. EVERYDAY the parents would pick their students up in my classroom and I would get another chance to talk to them. Working at this childcare center was amazing, it gave me the opportunity to learn how to talk to and interact with parents/families on the daily. Everything learned, was through doing. We planned family events which led to more and more chances to interact with these families, and I got as close to friendship as a teacher can get to them without crossing that professional barrier. After a few years, requests came in for me to teach younger siblings in the same families and those relationships grew even stronger. This particular program was a blend of traditional early childhood teaching strategies and Montessori based learning. After working at this center for almost 5 years an opportunity arose for me to go to a job fair for a local school district.
The federally funded preschool program was hiring! In June of 2017 I had the opportunity to work for the county and make a difference in the lives of at-risk families. Now, I have the chance to go to Title I events, Family and Community Engagement Committees, and visit the homes of my students through “home visits”. Now, there is a depth to my understanding of the diverse, beautiful nature of my community, and the challenges it faces.
Throughout the past year I have received an overwhelming amount of training that backs up my experience and makes me more confident within my own classroom, as well as, family events. My program is inclusive. We have collaborative and therapeutic classrooms, but that is a world I know little about. The purpose of me taking these courses is to increase my understanding of students with a variety of educational needs and learn look through all of their individual lenses.
I want to feel confident teaching all young children, not just some.