Annabel Torres started working in the academic program at KYCC as an Americorps volunteer in 2000. Over 12 years later, she is still a vital part of our organization, as a Family Advocate and Teacher at the KYCC Children’s Center.
But her long history with the Children’s Center isn’t unusual among her colleagues. In fact, out of the 11 preschool teachers, the average length of time with the school is seven years. This exemplary teacher retention rate is a point of pride for KYCC’s Children Center, which opened in 2004, as it indicates happy teachers, warm classrooms and a strong curricular program.
“Because we have worked as a team for so long, the trust we formed trickles down to what happens with the children,” says Michelle Ng, Curriculum Supervisor and Head Teacher, who has been with the center for nine years. “We create an environment that is warm and consistent.”
High teacher turnovers at preschools make it difficult to maintain quality early education programs. Nationwide, annual turnover rates of 25 to 50 percent in preschools are common; low pay and poor benefits are cited as reasons why good teachers find it hard to stay committed. That means one in three preschoolers will face their teacher or classroom aide quitting their job, which is often unpleasant and even traumatic for young children.
Preschool parents (with children in school for the first time) don’t want to see constant change in the classroom. They understand the value of teachers staying with the school—it’s often the first question asked at Children’s Center tours and open houses.
“Parents don’t want to see their child have to adjust to new teachers and start over again with trust and bonding,” explained Torres. “They know at Children’s Center that the teachers have been here for a long time and that we have more knowledge about the school and our programs.” The familiar faces year in and year out helps kids feel safe and stable. Lisa Kim, Children’s Center Director (who has been with KYCC for 11 years), says that our preschool meets the core needs of children: being loved.
“We are a family here,” Kim says. “Children’s Center provides care and consistency, and a strong foundation for our children.” She stresses that the family-like environment is felt not only by the educators, but also by the families at the school—around 50 percent who are recent immigrants. Because families trust the teachers, the school is able to run programs “the way we want to and the way we know best, both developmentally and age-appropriate.”
KYCC Children’s Center has an enrollment of 72 children, ages 2.5 to 5 years, in three classrooms of 24. Our student-to-teacher ratio is 8:1. Children’s Center’s play-based emergent curriculum concentrates on the whole child by paying attention to social and emotional development, as well as cognitive learning. All of our teachers are bilingual in Spanish or Korean.
For more information about KYCC Children’s Center, please call (323) 297-0038, ext. 5302 (Korean/English) or ext. 5303 (Spanish/English)