This year, in partnership with the St. Louis Public Schools District, we launched an Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee. The Early Childhood Advisory Committee is a special initiative seeking to ensure that our experts, specifically 15 teachers, are involved in a collective effort to design and support a high-quality Early Childhood program within St. Louis Public Schools. Advisory members participate in monthly committee meetings with the goal of identifying needs, assessment efforts, providing consultation on department identified projects, providing feedback on current programing, and supporting future program design efforts and professional development needs.
We spoke to two of the teachers of the ECE teachers on the committee, Ms. Thompson and Ms. Hahn, to learn more:
How would you describe your experience as a member of the ECE Advisory Committee?
Ms. Thompson: The ECE Advisory Committee is a breath of fresh air; we are able to confer and meet up with fellow ECE teachers that we have not interacted with since before March of 2020… The opportunity to work with and interact with high-quality educators is an immeasurable opportunity. The teacher-leaders are smart, ingenuitive, hard-working, and dedicated educators. It is super nice to be included in such a hard-working group of people. I am proud to be a part of the ECE Advisory Committee.
Ms: Hahn: I would describe it as an honorable and privileged opportunity for me to serve my friends and colleagues in early childhood. It is a much-needed chance to have teacher/staff input on what we see as the future for early childhood classrooms. We have been working for years to be able to say our piece as to what we want ECE to look like for ALL the students, not just a few schools/classrooms. This wonderful opportunity allows all of us on the committee to collaborate and engage in
real-time discussions, share our hopes, and identify our needs of what excellent education is and can be.
What would you like people to know about ECE in SLPS?
Ms. Thompson: Early childhood education is the greatest integral, beginning step in a child’s pathway of learning, which as many know, is a life-long journey. SLPS has provided free, high quality ECE for YEARS; we have opportunities such as magnet schools or ECE centers (or, a plethora of AWESOME neighborhood schools to choose from!). We are engaging in rigorous and standards-based curriculum, using a pedagogy revolving around Project Construct, with additional uses of Constructivist, Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, etc.-inspired activities. We, as a community of educators, are committed to increasing students’ kindergarten readiness skills, with early literacy and numeracy learning on the pathway to life-long learning.
Ms. Hahn: We matter! We are not glorified babysitters; we are educators who make a difference in the daily lives of the youngest students. I want people to know that ECE in SLPS is superb. We delve into the most detailed of curriculum, we are educating and preparing children for life, not just school, and that we are also constantly and consistently educating ourselves to make sure that ECE continues to be as excellent as possible.
What are your hopes for ECE in 2022?
Ms. Thompson: I hope for more unity & cohesion in the ECE department. On the Advisory Committee, we are working to streamline things across the district. That looks very promising to begin in 2022.
Ms: Hahn: I hope that ECE continues to grow and develop in the positive way it is going. Asking for teacher input is a huge step in creating better relationships between those of us on the “front-lines” and those in charge. I have been in the district for many years, and this is one of the best ways to get our professional opinions across to the administration. I hope that we continue to have wonderful collaborations with outside entities that help ECE reach its goals. I hope that the district will reach out to more teachers/staff for their input on other topics and in other areas throughout ECE.