Westerman Preschool and Family Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Early Childhood Educator/Pre-K Preschool Teacher
Number of Years Teaching:
Different Grades that you have taught:
I’ve held a few non-traditional teaching positions with AAPS: Tappan Teen Camp Director (6th, 7th, 8thgrade graduates) and Parent Educator/Teacher: First Steps-Parents As Teachers Program (Birth- 5: Infants, toddlers, preschoolers) My traditional teaching positions include: Preschool Planning Teacher, AAPS (3-5 year olds), Pre-K Preschool Teacher, AAPS (Head Start/Great Start Readiness Program/Tuition-Base) and Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education Early Childhood Education Department
How did you know that you wanted to teach early learners:
In 1990 while working as a School Age Childcare supervisor for AAPS, I began to recognize my love for interacting with children and families. I discovered that teaching and connecting with children and their families came naturally to me. Children’s innate curiosity and thirst for exploring their world has always intrigued me and how better to learn but to teach, because “to teach is to learn.” In addition to having my own “ah-ha” moments, the teachers at Allen saw my potential and encouraged me to return to school to pursue a teaching degree. Now I’m teaching teachers-to-be as well as the children (and grandchildren) of the children who originally sparked my teaching career. The early years are formative years for our learners and it has been an honor to be able to influence and help set the foundation for the children’s educational career.
What are a few “non-negotiables” of your early learning classroom (kinda your educational philosophy)?:
My “non-negotiables” center around building a “classroom family” environment of inclusivity where everyone of varying abilities feel welcomed and respected. As early learners the child must be at the center of their experience. In order to help support the whole child, I must include their families and communities in the process. Working in partnership with families is an absolute “non-negotiable.” Learning must involve integrating meaningful culturally responsive experiences across all domains that encourage thinking and learning in an engaging holistic manner. The classroom must be organized, planning must be intentional and learning must be purposeful. Expectations must clear and high yet realistic. There must be a healthy balance of teacher-directed learning and child-initiated planning ideas. These “non-negotiables” are crucial to building a positive learning environment where children and families feel vested and an integral part of the process.
What is something that you want us to know about you as a teacher of young children?:
I am passionate about early childhood education! I find great pleasure in supporting and advocating for the underserved. I love building relationships and working in partnership with my families. I have a personal affinity for working with the families of English language learners. As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, I like many of my students had to translate information to/for my parents as I learned to finesse the English language myself. I fully understand and appreciate how challenging navigating those two worlds can be. I love to have fun and relish in the fact that everyday brings unanticipated joys and discoveries. I enjoy mentoring student teachers. Mentoring has afforded me the opportunity to influence the future of the profession in a practical way while providing me the benefit of reflecting on my daily practices.
Anything else you would like your viewers to know?:
I whole-heartedly believe working on social-emotional skills is the key to early learners success. As teachers we are trained to deliver developmentally appropriate academic opportunities but without social skills, the children will not thrive fully. We must invest in the overall well-being of the child to have a direct effect on their development and on the people intend to become.