In celebration of DiscoverU 2020, a week of college and career exploration, we’re featuring an interview with Rory Gill, Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) Teacher at Daybreak Star Preschool and recipient of the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy funded SPP teacher scholarship.
The SPP scholarship contributes to the early learning workforce by supporting SPP educators to meet lead teacher education requirements (a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education).
DEEL: What is it that made you want to be an early learning educator?
Rory Gill (RG): We rarely see males of color in the field of education. It is very important that not only our children of color but all children get exposed to males of color playing important roles in the community. There are so many children that don’t have fathers, uncles, brothers, or just positive male influences in their lives, and I want to do my part to change that perception in our children’s lives.
DEEL: What is the concentration of your bachelor’s degree? How are the courses you’re taking informing your practices in the classroom?
RG: My bachelor’s degree is in early childhood education. The school that I am currently attending is called Goddard College. The benefits that I see from attending Goddard is that the school is majority a Hispanic school, so I get to see, learn, and interact with a lot of people from so many backgrounds of life that I would normally not experience. It is a huge plus because I work with so many Hispanic children who are just learning English as a second language. Goddard teaches their students new and different techniques to approach and interact with bilingual children in positive ways. Listening to others’ stories about their lives and journeys through life helps me to better understand where my students are coming from and what they are dealing with.
DEEL: During this journey, what have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about the children in the classroom?
RG: I’ve learned so much about myself during this journey, like how much patience and flexibility I have with children. I’ve learned to understand that a child’s background and cultural history has a lot to do with how they learn, interact, and engage in the classroom. Being open and really paying attention to the children’s interests to develop lesson plans that will keep kids engaged and focused. There are so many different personalities in each classroom, and they all bring something positive to the table.
DEEL: What, if any, barriers have you faced pursuing a career education?
RG: I hated school growing up. Working in education has opened my eyes to the importance of having a positive, flexible, creative teacher to look up to. I try to teach as much as possible and at the same time make the lessons fun and interactive as possible so that the children enjoy coming to school. SPP gave me the opportunity to keep pursuing a career in early childhood education so that I can affect my community in positive ways.
DEEL: What’s one piece of advice would you give to someone interested in a career in Early Childhood Education?
RG: Don’t give up, the kids need you.
Originally funded through the 2014 SPP Levy and now through the 2018 FEPP Levy, the SPP Scholars Tuition Assistance program supports SPP agency staff who are seeking a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or a Washington State Teaching Credential with a preschool to grade 3 (P-3) endorsement.
Since 2015, DEEL has invested more than $450,000 to support early childhood educators in meeting SPP education requirements and Washington State Core Competencies for Early Learning and Educational Professionals.
Click for more information about the Seattle Preschool Program.