With Thanksgiving just behind us, we thought this would be a good time to express how thankful we are for our teachers and family support staff. As Sarasota County’s exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services, Children First asks – requires – more from our teachers than a standard pre-school. Our incredible teachers and caring staff regularly go above and beyond for their students.
Like most people, teachers wear many hats. At Children First, our teachers wear even more than most… Of course, they prepare lessons, plan related activities to reinforce classroom learning, and teach to rigorous curriculum standards. Their work and impact, however, go well beyond the classroom.
Our teachers are coaches who help students make good decisions, cheerleaders who offer enthusiasm and encouragement throughout the day, police who make sure rules are enforced, jesters who love to joke and encourage kids to explore their silly sides, and so much more. They are event planners, organizing field trips and family engagement activities. They are parent helpers, reinforcing manners, respect, and responsibility. They are detectives who are always on the lookout for missing backpacks, jackets, notebooks or puzzle pieces. Perhaps most importantly, our teachers are gardeners who plant the seeds of knowledge in the children and families they serve, and tend to them carefully.
A teacher for a Head Start or Early Head Start program can face greater challenges than those in other settings. In addition to teaching and caring for the children all day, other services – such as health screenings, dental care, mental health services, nutritional assistance, and therapy for students with disabilities – must also be addressed. Our teachers also work much more closely with parents or other caregivers, since parental involvement is a key component to Head Start.
Extra doses of empathy, patience, creativity, enthusiasm, respect for differences, and a true passion for helping others are crucial for our staff. Research shows that poverty is the single greatest threat to the well-being of children – it can hinder their ability to learn, contributes to social, emotional and behavioral problems, and is often a major factor in poor physical and mental health. More than 90 percent of the families enrolled at Children First live below the federal poverty line, but we are here fighting to make sure that ALL children – regardless of their circumstances at birth – have the opportunity for success in school and in life. And our teachers and family support staff are on the front lines of the battle.
We are thankful for our teachers and caring staff, not just during the holidays but all year long. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to show them your appreciation too!
Many thanks to teachers Michelle Bundy and Brenda Babeu, who helped to inspire this message.