This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.
My name is Mary Frances Kroyak. The children call me Miss Fran. I work for Cape Cod Child Development in West Yarmouth, Mass. I have been teaching for three years.
As a teacher, I know that children’s brains develop at the fastest rate from birth to age five. Because of this, children not only need to learn ABC’s and 1-2-3’s, but also what their feelings are and how to deal with them. Children need to learn how to socialize and react when working and playing with their peers in a group. Learning these lessons early will help them throughout their lives.
Professionally, I am most proud of the relationships I develop with the children. I love when they come up to me and tell me about their day or something they found amazing that they have learned. One of my favorite things to do is sit at circle time and ask them what they learned this week. For instance, I was doing a unit on crabs. This one little boy drew a blue crab. I told him it looked like an Atlantic blue crab. I showed him pictures of them online. I also asked him if he knew where the Atlantic Ocean is. He said “No.” I asked hm if he knew where the beach he went to with mommy was (we live on Cape Cod). He told me, Yes, he remembered. I told him that was the Atlantic Ocean. He smiled with an expression of surprise and exclaimed “No Way! I swam with the blue crabs? Cool!!”
Before I became a teacher, I worked at a supermarket and helped care for my mother. Upon my mother’s death I returned to school. I chose to study early childhood education because I spent many years volunteering in my children’s classroom and enjoyed it. My son was a sophomore in high school and dared me to graduate from college before he did. He has graduated with a degree in rocket science in Spring 2018. My younger son has just started at Salem State University. And I will graduate with a bachelors degree in Early Child Education and Care from Bridgewater State University in December, 2018. Personally, while in school I needed the financial aid the most.
I will always work on my professional development. I believe that we are seeing children with more special needs now and our field needs to have more programs to help the teachers deal with these issues.
In my career, I as well as most teachers need more support managing the emotional and behavioral issues we are now seeing in our classrooms. Some solutions to the problem could be a specialized aid working with us in the classroom or more training on emotional and behavior issues or even a better pay rate to compete with the public schools to attract more top professionals to work with us.
Policymakers should know that teaching is not a nine-to-five job. We spend many hours working on lesson plans, preparing our rooms, going over files, and calling families asking how their child is doing. We also spend a great deal of our own money to provide supplies for our classroom and the children in them.
As for my favorite children’s book, I have always loved the book “Are you my Mother” by P.D. Eastman. It teaches children that even though they may be frightened, they can be brave and they can persevere. They must believe in themselves. While the bird who is the main character goes on his journey, he is frightened by many things but doesn’t give up. Along the way he learns many things and is reunited with his mom in the end.