Tell us why you wanted to be a teacher.
I always loved kids. There was always a spark there. I was drawn to kids and they were drawn to me. I always felt like I was supposed to do something important in this world. It took me awhile to figure out what it was. I’m a religious person, so I would talk to God and pray about it. It became clear that kids were my calling.
There’s a lot of problems in the world and I realized I could make a difference through my own kids. But when my kids got older, I thought, what do I do? So, I decided that I would work with kids at a daycare center. I taught at Desert Christian and then came to Arcadia Montessori a little over a year ago.
You teach toddlers. What kinds of things are you helping them learn?
A lot of people say they have important jobs, and some do. But this is where it’s at. Teachers hold the key to a child’s entire future. The things you instill in kids at such a young age are what they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
75 percent of a child’s brain is developed at the age of three. So, you’ve really laid down a lot of groundwork at that point. That’s why their experience in school is so important. You teach them math and the alphabet, but you also help teach them life skills. How to sit at a table, how to respect an adult. This is important stuff!
What traits do you have to have as a teacher when you are teaching children this young?
Patience. You’ve got to be patient. You need to be willing to get down on their level, to not think of yourself as bigger or wiser. When I leave here, I’ll realize that a two-year-old taught me something. Adults can complicate things, while kids see life for what it is.
A lot of teachers have a lesson plan, but with younger children you always have to be willing to improvise. I’m known for being quite creative. For example, we’ll be outside and the kids will be playing with woodchips, and we will all just start counting woodchips together. Then we can use the woodchips to create different shapes, or make our own shapes. You use a variety of things to help the kids learn. My dad was a musician, so I’ll make up songs for absolutely everything and the kids love it. With kids this young, you have to be capable of going with the flow.
Your interaction with children doesn’t really end when school gets out, does it?
Oh no, I have seven kids of my own and I’m fostering two more. We also have four dogs, fish and a cockatoo. There’s never a dull moment, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m blessed to have good kids who are healthy, and I have no complaints.