Teachers have often been the unsung heroes of any community, so we want to sing our praise loud and clear for the amazing staff of teachers at the Sigmund S. Freud Instituto de Educación Preescolar; the preschool of Centro Infantil de Los Ángeles. Our semester has just begun, so it is the perfect time to introduce our teachers!
First, a bit of history. Centro Infantil San Pablo was the preschool associated with St. Paul´s Anglican Church in San Miguel. It began operating in 2011 in its current location. In 2017, Centro Infantil San Pablo merged with Hogar de Los Angeles daycare center and Centro Infantil de Los Ángeles (CILA) was born! With the combination of services, CILA has been able to provide care for children from the time they are babies until they graduate from preschool. CILA has graduated 154 children in this manner. This semester, 30 students have moved from our daycare center to start their preschool experience. This relationship allows CILA to have a solid connection with the students and their families for the first five to six years of our student´s development. We ensure that all educational, nutritional and other needs are met. None of this would be possible without the amazing teachers dedicated to the success of each and every child.
First Year (3 – 4 year olds)
Maria Lidia Cabrera Espinoza & Maria Magdelena “Male” (pronounced Mal-ey) Rubio Garay
Lidia and Male are the teachers who receive our littlest ones from the daycare environment to that of the preschool. Lidia has the morning class and Male takes the afternoon class. Both have had to use their creativity more than ever in the shift to online learning. The average age for first level preschool is three years old ; a steep challenge for engaging interactive learning in any situation! Here´s what they have to say about their experience:
Lidia – Class 1 A
Lidia is in her 6th year at the preschool and loves being a teacher. She says, “When the children enter the first level, they almost always cry because it’s something new to them. However, after a few days they stop crying and start trusting me. Then they give me a lot of hugs and tell me they love me, that feeds my teacher’s heart.”
Getting hugs is something we all miss during these pandemic times, and for Lidia it is no different. The switch to distance learning has been challenging. As a teacher, she had to learn new skills…and quickly! She has noticed the challenges that families confront. She says, “Not all of the families have access to internet. In addition, some of the students are being taken care of by older brothers and sisters or grandparents so that their parents can continue working. It is just another element of the difficulties families face in maintaining contact with us as teachers and following up on the homework assigned.”
Male – Class 1 G
Male is in her thirteenth year at the preschool! Her more than a decade of experience gives her some authority on what it is like: “I love to share experiences with the children; see them laugh and motivate them to be happy. Preschool is their moral base. The values and guidance given at this time is essential to their development and well being in society.”
As the mother of a seven year old daughter, Male has experienced the challenges with distance learning from both sides. She found it difficult to navigate her own fear and anxiety, while trying to help the mothers of her students deal with their own. She is grateful for video technology, as she feels it gives the students comfort and confidence; they can see that their teacher and classmates have not simply disappeared. Overall, she felt a greater sense of respect from the families for the work that teachers do, but it took a lot of work for her to keep up the pace. She has tried to create real life activities that inspire learning and can´t wait to be able to hear her student´s laughter in person again.
Second Year (4 – 5 years)
Bibiana “Bibi” Baeza Rubio & Jacque Diosdado
Bibi and Jacque have the benefit of being right in the middle. They get to see their students from the previous year as they enter into their last year at the preschool, and get a preview of their next class as they observe the little ones entering preschool for the first time.
Bibi – Class 2 A
Bibi loves children and is surprised at how they develop; how they learn to explore and solve problems. She has been with the preschool for the past five years and was drawn to the strong values implemented in the educational environment and curriculum. Values such as respect, honesty, responsibility, love, collaboration and communication that permeate preschool activities. She has seen families struggle with multiple obstacles: reduced or lost employment, lack of internet access for distance learning, access to the new technologies and adaptation to a new way of learning. Working parents have even more challenges in managing time with their children’s education. Approximately 15% of Bibi´s students have been unable to easily access their online activities, however, we have worked with the parents to find other solutions. She hopes that, through fundraising initiatives, we can start providing training to families… and teachers! Our teachers have excelled in adaptive skills but they could still use our support. Bibi recounts one of her most profound experiences at the preschool. She says, “Mateo Jesus is one of the children I have had to opportunity to teach and work with from when he took his first steps. Not only in learning how to walk, but to also dance and sing! This experience has shown me just how much is possible in development with children of this age.”
Jacque – Class 2 G
Jacque has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She came to CILA straight from college, but noticed something different from the moment she entered. At the preschool, the parents actually participate! Paty Palacios created a storytelling program in which the parents come to school a few times a month and have a storytelling session with the children. Often they arrive in costume so that even their own children don´t recognize them! This was just one of the many experiences that assured Jacque that she was in the right place. In response to the modifications our teachers have had to navigate due to the pandemic, Jacque and Bibi have created their own website so that parents and students can interact and upload homework more easily. We hope they will be able to work their magic in their actual classrooms soon, but for now, we know our 2nd level students are being well taken care of!
Graduating Class (5 to 6 years)
Fatima Alejandra “Ale” Gonzalez Conejo & Maria Paola Espinoza Monzon
Ale and Paola have the responsibility of preparing our graduating students for the real world of kindergarten! We track our students throughout their educational career, and have statistical reporting indicating that our graduates not only stay in school, but remain in the top percentile throughout their elementary and middle school education. Ale and Paola have been doing their job well!
Ale – Class 3 A
Ale is one of the newest teachers on the team, starting in 2019 with CILA. She, like so many others, has experienced the full upheaval of our education system exactly when she was getting in stride. In Ale´s class, she found that up to 40% of her families struggled with access or capabilities with technology with the shift to distance learning. She spent many extra hours on the phone doing outreach and support. She is looking for alternatives to augment the education experience during these trying times, and suggest that not only we solicit support in donations, but look for support in digital services. Volunteers can share videos of songs, theatre, yoga or other activities that our teachers can integrate into their weekly curriculum. Any help is not only appreciated, but affords an international diversity that gives the attention to our students that CILA has always been able to offer in pre-pandemic times.
Paola – Class 3 G
Paola is also a newer member to the CILA preschool team. She was very excited to get into the classroom after her professional practicums. She sees the alliance between the preschool and daycare center to be one of the greatest benefits to our organization. “We literally have the chance to support parents, especially single mothers, in the education and socialization of their children for the first five years of their lives!” As she is grateful to be a part of a collaborative team, she also sees collaboration and empathy as two of the integral pillars in values that we teach to our students.
We, at CILA, are also grateful. We are grateful for this amazing team of educators and advocates. We commend Paty Palacios, our director, for her leadership and we honor the hard work and dedication of the families of our community who work every single day to ensure viable possibilities for their children.
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