Puedes usar tus habilidades lingüísticas y culturales si te conviertes en maestro/a de educación infantil, educación de niňos/as. Tus habilidades serían una luz brillante para estos niños pequeños que están aprendiendo inglés. También puedes lograr beneficios personales y profesionales.

ESD 113 Bilingual Melanie and Mercedes
Center Manager Melanie Scrivner and Teacher Mercedes enjoy working together, and Melanie practices her Spanish. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

You could use your language and cultural abilities by becoming a teacher. Your skills would be a shining light for these young children who are learning English. You can also reap personal and professional accomplishments.

Learning language is an integral part of growing up. Listening to children pronounce words and put together sentences is fun. But what is it like to be 5-years-old and be at school where everyone speaks a language you don’t know? Mercedes Jimenez remembers her own experiences coming to the United States. She was scared. Now she gets to bring her Spanish language roots to work every day as a teacher with Sound to Harbor’s Early Learning Programs. Her dual language abilities and compassionate care provide powerful support for children who are new to the English language.

For the past decade Mercedes has been teaching preschool students in both Spanish and English for the Head Start/ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) through Sound to Harbor. There are benefits for everyone. Some children are from families where only Spanish is spoken. Her classroom gives these young learners time to acquire English in a safe and comfortable manner. This makes them better prepared for kindergarten, which is the goal of the Head Start program. Additionally, native English speaking students get to hear words in another language, which is fun and stimulating for them, adding another dimension to their education.

Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs serve families and children in centers across Thurston, Grays Harbor and Mason counties. Preschool is provided for free or at low-cost to families who qualify for financial assistance through Head Start and ECEAP. South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) and Lacey Child Care and Family Services Center also have childcare for infants and toddlers. Field trips and nutritious meals are part of the programs. Health and developmental screenings are also offered.

The preschool and childcare options have been structured to fill the varied needs of parents. There are half-day programs in the mornings and afternoons. These are three-and-a-half hour sessions. The school-day option for some Head Start students is a daily program for six-and-a-half hours. There is also an ECEAP wrap-around program with preschool and then daycare before or after school. Interviews with incoming families will determine the best option for them.

ESD 113 BiLingual Nutrition Lunches
South to Harbor Early Learning Programs include health-minded meals for their young students. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

The early learning centers provide an impressive level of services, not only for the students, but for the families as well. People are apprised of the many and varied social services in the area. Then they are assisted to make connections for help with housing, medical needs, legal advocacy, nutrition support and so much more.

Mercedes loves working with the children but also sees that working with the whole family is essential to the ongoing heath and success of everyone. She finds that riding the bus with the children gives her the opportunity to meet grandmas,

uncles, siblings, babysitters, and other family members. Mercedes is especially enthusiastic about helping families make connections within the community – like getting a library card. “I love to ride the bus. I love the families,” she says with a big smile.

Along with teaching all week, Mercedes manages to take coursework at SPSCC, gaining credits towards her AA in Early Childhood Education. Tuition and books are covered through her work. She explains that this education would probably not otherwise be possible without this financial assistance. It is very important to her to receive more professional training, and she believes that her love of education is passed on to her students. Along with work and school, Mercedes has a family including a husband and three children. She credits much of her success to their ongoing support.

ESD 113 BiLingual Mercedes reading
Bi-lingual teacher Mercedes Jimenez sits on the floor with young readers. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

There is a continuing need for teachers and especially ones who are capable Spanish speakers. Perhaps you or someone you know would thrive in this kind of environment. You would be making a significant difference in the lives of children in your own community. You also have the opportunity to further your own education. Put your language skills and positive attitude to good use. “It’s never to late to go to school,” reminded Mercedes, adding, “The children are our future.”

Can you picture yourself in a lively classroom with enthusiastic children? Please check out more information about employment options or enrolling your child in a program. ¡Gracias!

South Puget Sound Community College 
Sound to Harbor Early Learning Center 
2011 Mottman Road SW, Building 20, Olympia


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