CCA’s newest staff member, community engagement specialist Jessica Carman, joined us in the fall. We’re thrilled to have her on the team and to be able to share a little bit more about her below!
What was your favorite activity to do with your preschool students when you were in the classroom?
My favorite activity to do with my preschool students was any activity that allowed them to express their creativity. My two favorite classroom materials were Wikki Stix and Tanagrams! Watching my students create different items and mosaics with these materials and then explain them to me was amazing. Seeing things through children’s eyes is just so magical!
If you could go back in time, what is one thing you would tell yourself the night before your first day as an early educator?
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada
It’s ok if your lesson plan isn’t executed exactly the way you had envisioned it. Every child that enters your classroom is unique and is going to observe, learn, and grow in different ways. It is our responsibility to provide them with the tools and materials to learn, but sometimes the way you thought you were going to teach them doesn’t work for all. Know that it is critical to be flexible and to adapt to ensure that each child has an opportunity to thrive in their own way!
Talk about an educator you admired and what you learned most from them.
I was incredibly lucky with the educators I had from an early age, but one of my all-time favorite teachers was my second-grade homeroom teacher. She made me love to learn and love school. Her compassion and empathy for each of her students was what made her stand out most to me. She showed what it meant to truly care for every aspect of a child – socially, emotionally, and academically. When I started in my own classroom, I kept in mind how she made me, and others, feel and how her actions drove me to love the classroom.
What has been your biggest learning in your experience working with children and families?
A child cannot achieve success unless there is a team behind them. Working with children and families has taught me that the most success occurs when caregivers and educators are working together, communicating openly, and learning from one another. Every child and family is different, which means every approach should be specific to their needs and not just cookie-cutter. Caregivers are the experts of their families! Although educators are deemed as professionals in their field, no one knows the child or dynamic of the family more than the caregiver.
What do you wish more people knew about early care and education?
I wish more people knew how crucial early care and education is! Ages birth to fives are some of the most important years of a child’s life. Their brains are growing and forming, and their ability to learn has started before most even notice. The exposure to different settings, individuals, and experiences during those early years not only help shape a child’s emotional and social intelligence, but also create a strong foundation for them to be successful as they grow into adulthood!