Lead Preschool Teacher
American Union Preschool, Washington Unified School District
A Calling Supporting Early Learners
Purpose: A Chosen Path and Love for the Central Valley
At 6 months old, I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea, into a Japanese family. My grandparents and my dad were farmers in the Central Valley. I attended high school in Fowler and college at California State University in Fresno. Compared to the bigger cities in California, I love how the valley is a little bit more “slow-paced.” We have busy city streets, but 15 minutes down the road you’re surrounded by farmland. We get the best of both worlds! For me, the Central Valley is home.
I am an only child, but I’m also the oldest of many cousins, so I was always watching out for my younger cousins. In high school, I babysat a lot and started coaching swimming for a summer swim league. My mom was a special education teacher and my aunt was an elementary teacher. Teaching always looked fun and was something I was naturally drawn to.
After graduation, I worked in a before and after school program as well as substitute teaching. I subbed in grades from preschool to high school, but always preferred and felt more comfortable working with the younger children.
I started at West Fresno Preschool in 2006, and it felt like it was meant to be. My colleagues became my family. I applied for and got my current position as the Lead Preschool Teacher about four years ago, taking a decade of experience at West Fresno and bringing it to American Union. I still work closely with my West Fresno colleagues. We build curriculum and program planning together and try to align our programs, since we’re in the same district.
At one point, I took a short break from education and worked in another industry, wondering if teaching was really for me, but I was miserable. It didn’t feel like I was serving a purpose.
In education, we have the opportunity every day to help these kids succeed in school by giving them the best foundation we can, supporting them, instilling confidence, and helping them feel secure in the world. Working in education gives you a feeling of serving a purpose and doing something good.
Miracles Happen Daily in the Classroom
Every day there are mini-milestones happening in the classroom. For instance, it seems like one day, they know hardly any letter sounds and then the next day, it seems, I am pulling cards and they are spouting off letter sound after letter sound! I am constantly impressed and “wowed” by these kiddos! I think those mini-milestones that happen every day, keep us going.
Language, an Important Gift
I’m from a Japanese-American family, but I don’t speak Japanese. I speak more Spanish than any other language besides English. My grandparents were interned during World War II, and those experiences eventually led to assimilation. A lot of things like language were lost because they didn’t want to show it out of a need for survival. I now believe and understand that dual language is a gift. I love that kids are growing up with dual languages. I don’t want them to lose their culture, and language is a huge part of the culture that can only help them as they grow. The earlier we teach kids about different cultures, the better they will be able to understand each other and grow up to be more understanding and accepting young adults who will grow to be more inclusive and more tolerant.
Setting a Foundation and Paving the Way for Future Success
When we give our kids a solid foundation, both academically and social-emotionally, they are ready to learn as they move through their education.
Access to these foundational programs is something that needs to be kept in mind. Some parents are not able to send their children to three-hour programs because transportation and childcare become an issue. If we can address these issues and make our programs more accessible, we can serve more children and they can have that solid foundation to build their education on.
When kids say, “I love you,” or when they mistakenly call you “Mom,” it makes me feel good because I know they felt safe, at home, and loved while they were here. I want all young learners to feel safe, loved and have access to quality education.
Published on the James B. McClatchy Foundation website using the Creative Commons License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ : Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)