Meet Ms. Erica, lead voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) teacher, as well as certified Master Teacher through La Petite Academy’s parent company, Learning Care Group. She’s been working in early education for 30 years and has been at La Petite Academy in Merritt Island, FL for 11 of those. Read our Q&A with Ms. Erica to learn more about her background and passion for early education!
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have my A.S. in early childhood education and I have a CDA. I’ve been in this business for 30 years. I actually started working in the field when my oldest daughter was young and I thought this would be a good thing to do. Growing up, I always liked babysitting – I just have always had a passion for children. I taught Vacation Bible School, I taught Sunday scho0ol, I just always worked with young kids. And I actually tried doing other things, like I worked at a grocery store when I was fresh out of high school, but it just wasn’t my thing. I can’t ever see myself doing anything else. And being here, I’ve been given so many opportunities.
How is it rewarding for you to teach little ones every day?
To see them grow and how much they learn by the end of the year, and to see how much they want to learn, it’s just exciting. And to watch their social behaviors grow and how they make friends and how they help each other when they’re learning. I really push that in my classroom. We’re a family, we have to help each other.
Why are early education programs so beneficial for little ones?
The expectations when the get to elementary school, to me, are over the top. I feel that by them being with us and growing with us, as each year passes, they become independent, they can think for themselves, and they see things that need to be done and they can figure them out. And I think that because they’ve been given those opportunities with us, when they leave us and go to a big school, I think they’re more ready. They’re way more prepared emotionally and they can meet that expectation easier.
You’re a Learning Care Group Master Teacher – can you explain what that process was like?
We were able to apply for this program where we did nine months of intense study on the curriculum and we really learned how to use it. There was lots of homework and lots of projects and lots of curriculum building and just really detailed ways on how to use our curriculum the best we can. It was the best program! I got so much out of it and the people running it were just awesome and super helpful. I now work with the preschool teacher and other VPK teacher and mentor them and train them so we we’re all on the same page.
How do you ensure strong lines of communication between you and the families of your students?
I see them at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. So each day I try to talk to every parent face to face. We are using the brightwheel app so I can send them different things throughout the day like pictures, little notes, anything. I try to make sure they know something their child did today that was awesome.
Overall, how would you sum up the past 11 years at La Petite Academy?
Our school, the way everybody supports each other, it’s just been a pleasure working here. It’s truly a team effort, it’s not just one person. It’s been a great thing.