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FIELD to open new Childhood Education Center in Tehachapi

Farmworkers Institute of Education and Leadership Development (FIELD) will be celebrating the grand opening of the Helena Chavez Early Childhood Education Center, located right here in Tehachapi, on Wednesday, April 26 at 10 a.m. The center is located at 100 East E St. on the Tehachapi United Church of Christ’s property.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the lead teacher, Sarah Bromiley, and her teaching aides, America Carrillo and Mariah Enman, for an informative interview about the new center. We chatted about a range of topics and Sarah was happy to share important information about the center’s operations, processes, policies, as well as interesting information about the curriculum at the center.

“Our licensing is for eight toddlers and eight preschoolers. We currently have openings for children aged 18-36 months. We are almost completely fully enrolled so interested parents may want to swing by the center and/or contact us soon, if they would like to enroll their child,” Bromiley said. “We are open from 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and are closed on major national holidays. We offer a full day or half day schedule. There are choices. Parents/guardians can choose to enroll their child five days a week; three days per week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) or two days per week (Tuesday/Thursday). As for pricing/rates, as of today our rates are: Full day potty trained $35; half day potty trained $20. It’s an extra $5 per day for children who are not potty trained.”

I asked Sarah to “paint a picture” to describe the center’s layout and a typical day for the little ones. With the pride and that characteristic enthusiasm of an early childhood teacher, Sarah explained, “Our classroom is very bright and welcoming. We have children’s work displayed throughout the classroom. The classroom is set up with various intra-center learning stations, such as areas dedicated to math, science, art, blocks, dramatic play and a library. Everything in the classroom is child-size, including the restroom to encourage children to be more independent. The materials in the classroom are age appropriate, providing the children with common skills such as hand-eye coordination, motor skills, problem solving and much more.

“We use Creative Curriculum and our lessons are theme-based and change throughout the year. We are currently learning about the theme of athletic balls. The children have been able to explore the various types of balls (different sports balls: soccer, tennis, baseball, etc.), what they are made of, how high they can bounce, and how people use these objects. For these lessons, we use these balls to teach the children concepts and skills in literacy, math, science and art. We have been using thinking skills to investigate, ask questions, solve problems, make predictions and test ideas.

“Every lesson is made to complement a learning objective and new ways for the children to better understand themselves, their classmates, communities and the world around them. Our curriculum has a large focus on ‘sensory learning’ (sight, sound, touch, smell and taste). We also have several lessons that parents can use to bond with and teach their child at home using their own style and pace.”

According to Sarah and her team, a typical day at the center follows a set schedule. Children arrive at the center and are greeted and received by the teachers. Each child has their own cubby to place their belongings. In the circle time area the teachers go over the calendar, shapes, colors and much more.

“We take our learning outdoors twice a day (weather permitting), where the children get to explore and use their imaginations, their gross motor skills and, of course, exercise,” Sarah explained.

I asked Sarah why she is passionate about this line of work, how she entered this line of teaching and if she had any advice for anyone who may also be interested in becoming an early childhood education teacher or aide. She told me her work is very rewarding.

“This work provides an excellent opportunity to influence and shape the lives of many young children during the very formative early years of their lives. An added bonus is the ability to also help families teach and care for their young ones. I have worked with ages ranging from infants all the way to twelve years old. I have been in the early childhood education profession for over ten years.”

Sarah went on to say that ECE teachers need to follow a pathway in their education, gain a degree in the field and experience in the classroom before they are promoted to lead instructors. And aide’s pathway is similar; a beginning aide needs at least six accredited college ECE credits to start their work in the classroom.

Outside in the center’s well-kept playground she told me, “We keep in close regular contact with parents; briefing them when they drop off or pick up their child. We also use the learning/communication app ClassDojo to communicate with parents. We send pictures, as well as messages through the app. We will post fliers for upcoming events, such as field trips or if there will be a closure. We have a phone here at the center that parents can call any time.

“As I mentioned earlier, our curriculum also includes a family engagement section where our teachers and aides can send resources and books to families in English and Spanish. This helps families stay connected with their children’s learning and parents can continue the learning at home. I and my teaching aides will gladly explain how we communicate and what ClassDojo is when we meet with parents.”

As any parent knows, gaining the attention of such young children is not the easiest task, and to teach them and inspire them is also remarkable. We are fortunate to have this new service added to our already vibrant and solid Tehachapi landscape.

America and Mariah, glowingly explained that they are delighted and excited to begin offering services to the Tehachapi community. “Our teachers and staff are bright, professional, loving, well trained and enjoy the important role of beginning a child’s journey of life-long learning.”

Remember, space is very limited, so if you are a parent or guardian and are interested in enrolling your child/children at the center, I highly encourage you to contact Sarah and the Helena Chavez ECE Center directly at (661) 823-4689. Be sure to attend the grand opening on April 26 at 10 a.m. at the ECE Center, 100 E. E St., Tehachapi.