They bring quality education to children in the early years
It’s been recognized that quality early childhood education is critical to set up a child for success in future schooling. Part of that success relies upon the quality preschool teachers who set the tone of learning for children. Let’s meet two Post University alumni who have been setting toddlers on a bright path to kindergarten and beyond for 25 years. The women are part of the staff at the West Haven Child Development Center (WHCDC) in West Haven, CT.
For Helena Correia, who speaks three languages, it was a love of teaching children that attracted her to profession. “Teaching, to me doesn’t feel like a job. It’s an adventure filled with learning. It’s a place where I have the ability to promote and develop excellence in the minds and hearts of students,” explained Correia, who has been part of the WHCDC for 13 years.
Just as a mom will break out in a smile when their child says “momma” for the first time, Correia knows that warm feeling all too well when a child in her infant and toddlers classroom calls her name. “My proudest moment working with the children is when they learn to say my name for the first time. When I see a baby that has been in my care grow up and start to speak, it makes me incredibly happy and proud when they can call me Ms. Helena. Another proud moment is when I’m teaching preschool children, and they demonstrate their artistic abilities. Every year we have the children make seasonal works of art, and it makes me proud to see their creativity shine,” said Correia, who has a bachelor’s degree in child studies from Post.
Meghan Kaminsky was on a different career path before recognizing that education was her calling. “I wanted to be a cosmetologist for as long as I could remember. Yet looking back, I was always the person who babysat all the kids in the neighborhood. I guess you can say, working with children has always been my thing, even before I realized it,” explained Kaminsky, who earned her associate’s degree in early childhood education from Post.
“There are no typical days working with youngsters, and that is why I love being an early childhood educator. Each day is different but I’m planting the seeds for lifelong learning in children,” said Kaminsky, who has been with the WHCDC for 12 years.
Toddlers learn how to problem solve by watching and imitating others. For Kaminsky, her proudest moments at the Center happen “when I overhear the children using the same phrases that I use in the classroom when they talk to one another or when they take the time to work out a problem and come up with their own solutions without my help.”
Founded in 1978, The West Haven Child Development Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. That first year, 45 children were in the program, which operated in three classrooms in the Forest Elementary School in the Allingtown section of West Haven. The following year, the Center moved to a renovated building on Noble Street where it remains today. The Center originally served children ages 3-5 all day. Currently the program serves 170 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years full and part day. Almost one-third of the children have identified special needs. Recently, WHCDC collaborated with the United Way of Greater New Haven to offer the only early Head Start program in West Haven.