HomeBlocksFront-TopPUSD Attracts Top-Notch Preschool Teachers

PUSD Attracts Top-Notch Preschool Teachers

Five-year-old Victoria paints with watercolors at the Cleveland Dual Language Children’s Center in Pasadena and says her favorite thing about going to “big-kid school” is playing with her friends.
Her pigtailed BFF, Paloma, agrees and proudly mentions she can do “real gymnastics” but admits, “I cannot do a summersault because I’m 4 years old.”
While preschools everywhere are filled with adorable young artists and gymnasts like these, not all preschools employ a majority of teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The Pasadena Unified School District does. In fact, 85% of PUSD preschool teachers have their bachelor’s or higher, although it is not required in California. Only a high school diploma and an early childhood development permit are required by the state.
Experts say the additional education gives teachers a deeper appreciation of a child’s cognitive development and it equips educators with the tools necessary to turn complex concepts into practical and fun classroom activities.
“Having a higher education level, with additional time to learn strategies and teaching skills, gives teachers a better understanding of how to prepare lesson plans and how to assign activities where children are more engaged so that they’re interacting with one another and able to learn by exploring their environment,” said Patricia Guzman, Early Childhood Education coordinator for PUSD.
Lindsay Lewis, director of Early Childhood Education for PUSD, says her entire staff fosters positive self-esteem in children by modeling responsive listening skills, teaching kids how to problem-solve and encouraging them through their first educational experiences. Those first interactions are vital to a child’s growth.
“Collaborating with other similar-aged peers is critical in developing the early pillars of learning to read, write, do math and science,” Lewis explained. “Although the love you get from your own family members is something that you can’t replace, going to preschool and seeing how other kids learn through hands-on exploration and play, with guidance from loving, high-quality teachers is equally as important. Without that foundation, the statistic for educational success drops tremendously by 3rd grade standard measures.”
PUSD preschool teacher Heidi Rodriguez said, “I choose to teach because I know that I am making a difference. We work really well together to ensure that not only are the children learning, but they are safe and they are coming to school to have fun.”
Yuliia Handzii, who is originally from Ukraine and is working on her master’s in special education, teaches 3-to-5-year-olds at PUSD and said, “I absolutely love what I do! We are learning letters, numbers and we are doing science every day. We are exploring the world. I’m so excited to see their happy, big eyes.”
Those big eyes and adorable faces mature into inquisitive and explorative minds at PUSD.
According to Jefferson Sankary, PUSD Early Childhood Education coordinator, “The relationships children make with their teachers and peers is essential to their educational journey. With these strong bonds, they will be better equipped to manage conflict resolution and academic inquiry.”
To learn more about PUSD’s Early Childhood Education programs, visit the websites pusd.us/Page/7449 or email earlychildeducation@pusd.us.

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