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Meet Ms. Bailee, the lead toddler teacher, team lead and safety captain at La Petite Academy in Iowa City, IA. And did we also mention that she was also the 2018 recipient of our Lisa Miskimins Mentorship Award? This talented staff member has been making a difference at La Petite for the past five years and has many years of experience working with little ones. We recently spoke with Bailee to learn more about her background, why she loves early education and what it felt like to win this highly-coveted award!
Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
Right now I’m taking classes toward my early childhood administration degree. Other than that I have my associate’s degree in liberal arts and I also teach swim lessons – I’ve been doing that for about four years. I also babysat since I was younger and I worked at before- and after-school programs throughout high school.
What was it that made you realize you wanted a career in early education?
I didn’t ever think of it as a career, honestly. I just kind of got this job because I was in the area and I needed something that I was familiar with. I’ve worked with older kids before so I thought, “I might as well try this!” I didn’t expect to fall in love with the younger group, but their little minds are so fascinating and that really drew me in. They’re just little balls of energy, they keep me going and I like watching them grow over time. This toddler group, when I started here, they are entering Pre-K next year and I just loved to watch them grow over the past five years. That’s really why I love it. Just to watch them grow and see how I can help.
I found out a few weeks ago when our divisional vice president came to look at our school. I was so surprised – I was shocked. I started crying because my director was crying, too. I just was blown away. My director was saying all these nice things about me, and I was just amazed.
How has your job been rewarding for you?
It’s rewarding in the fact that they learn so much in the year that they’re in my classroom. I see a lot of their first steps, their first words, things like that. I just love sharing those experiences with their parents and their parents are just so happy to see that they’re happy. That’s why it’s rewarding to me.
Speaking of the parents, how to you build strong lines of communication with them?
I always try to touch base at least once a week and have a conversation with them. Even if it’s just to hear about how their day was or how their weekend was, that’s how I build that personal connection with them.
What has been a memorable moment from your time here at La Petite?
I received teacher of the year in 2015! That was great. I was still kind of new, but the amount of love I received from the teachers and parents was great. That was one of my most memorable moments.
If your students could describe you in one word, what do you think it would be?
I would have to say bubbly. I try to be happy all the time to keep the kids in a good mood. Even if I’m in a bad mood, I try to smile, I try to be excited about everything.
What do you love the most about working at La Petite?
First of all is the kids. I love the kids. I’ve watched them grow up over the past years and I can’t imagine not seeing some of these faces every day. I’ve had the same boss for the past five years and she’s been a mentor to me and given me so many opportunities to grow. We work really well together.
Why do you believe early education programs are so beneficial for kids?
I think they’re important because learning starts in infancy. I know it’s hard for some parents to believe that programs start even in infancy, but the more they’re exposed to different education programs, the more they learn. I’ve seen it firsthand. A lot of my family members or younger cousins don’t go to preschool or they stay at home with their parents, and you just don’t see the kind of growth that you see in kids in early education programs. These children are surrounded by other children and they’re just constantly learning when while playing, which I love.