Episode 1 - Introduction to Mrs.C
Hi, my name is Jennifer Carter and I want to welcome you to a podcast for Parents, Teachers and Administrators. I chose to focus on those three groups of people because each one has a different, really important aspect in raising
I've been an educator since 1994 and I started out as a very green, very new
teacher in Kenya. I graduated in June of 1994, I was teaching by myself in a classroom by December of 1994. I went to through a really great education program and I felt very well prepared, but there were many things that came up and I spent a lot of hours talking to other peace corps volunteers about some
of the problems and challenges that I was having in class.
Interestingly I was about 22 when I went off to Kenya and the way that the system in Kenya works, many of my students were my age and some were a little bit older so they kept asking me to marry them. It was kind of a really crazy experience for a new teacher and I'm thinking like how do I negotiate ? I don't want to alienate but these are my students, so how do I draw boundaries ? So I really got thrown in. I had to figure out classroom management and boundaries really early on. Then, I came to the United States and I've worked in a variety of different situations as a teacher. I worked in upper Darby, Pennsylvania, I also worked in Maryland very briefly, I came out to Los Angeles to work in two private schools, a charter school and then I also did some freelance tutoring while I was here. I also worked at a small community college as well, so I really have done like the full range of teaching from 1994 until 2008.
In 2008 is when I took over my school, Oak Tree Learning Center. It's a preschool and daycare center in San Bernardino, California. I had never thought about moving to San Bernardino and my husband lost his job and we said, well maybe we can buy a business so then at least your job will be the business and so we literally googled, buy a business and this place was the first place that came up in that google search.
We are people who are led by faith and so we read the listing and I said, you know there's something about this that really resonates with me. We were in touch with the broker, we came and saw it and immediately knew that this was the place for us. I knew even though we had googled this place for my husband, I kind of elbowed my way in and said you know what this is a place for me also and so I came out and I really started to focus on applying all of the things that I had learned as a teacher experience in this setting as a teacher and preschool administrator.
My last job before this was an administrator at a private school for about 10 years and in that experience there were some really fantastic things that we accomplished. I worked with a team of outstanding teachers, I don't know
if I've ever worked with teachers of that caliber before. We also had some really rocky times at that school and just like any school going through transitions we all handle transition differently.
I personally, when going through really difficult transition, I tend to close everybody out and try to work it out in my head and through that experience I discovered that wasn't an effective way to be an administrator. I can't exist inside my head because all of the work I have to do involves so many people, and so I really intentionally and purposefully set out to do quite a bit of training and self-development so that I could be a better administrator. Eventually what
happened is that we transformed the school, the curriculum and I
built some really good relationships with people who are still doing the work that I laid the foundation for even to this day.
I brought that here to this school and really worked on making sure that I had a really good team that we had a high level of trust that it wasn't always when we say an open door and a safe space like really creating that and really sincerely and earnestly working to keep that in place, but then also have a really high level of expectation. You know this even though we have that shared space, we all know why we're here in the business of getting these children in this area which faces so many challenges. We know that we have to be here and we have to bring our A-game because there's so many aspects of the lives of the kids here where they're not getting an A-game. This may be the only stable place that they come to on a daily basis, so building that in my team and helping us all to realize that we're here all pulling in the same direction really fortified my work experience here in the preschool.
I also realized through all of this, there's kind of a little through line because I've been a parent this whole time. I had my son in 1998 and he was a whopping 9.3 pounds and 23 and a half inches, so I knew that I was going to have a gigantic son and we were in Philadelphia and I was like, I'm gonna have this huge son in a city where, I love Philly but there's a high, high rate of violence. There's some dangers and some things that I have to consider having an African- American son and raising him and so I really was motivated as a parent to figure out what are the resources I need to be the best parent I can for this kid. So I set out on that work and use all of the development that I was getting as a teacher to be a better parent. Fast forward, some years later one of his friends came to live with us and we helped raise him from the time he was 16, and again you know you're dealing with the situation with his own set of contexts and things and so raising my two boys really made me more aware of what it really is to navigate all of those different worlds. I was a parent who was raising two division one basketball players because they both ended up going to college to play basketball and my son Ian recently graduated from Dartmouth in the middle of a pandemic, but that's another story for another time in the podcast.
So I had these two boys but I was a teacher, so I understood the the push and pull that happens in the classroom and I was an administrator so I understood that you're not making decisions, wholly with students at the center of it all the time. I can just be honest about that sometimes the decisions that are being made at that administrative level don't really involve the students and that's not because the administrators don't care, that's because their force is well outside of that administrative bubble that are considerations and that there are pressures forcing some of the decisions. Some of them are great decisions and everyone loves, some of them are decisions where people look at you kind of side eye and they should, but this podcast was born out of the friction that exists between all three of those different identities.
It is not easy to get parents, teachers and administrators in a room to have a pleasant conversation that is holy and solely focused on the benefit of kids and that's what this podcast is. This is a podcast that is holy and solely focused on how do we become better parents ? How do we become better teachers ? How do we become better administrators ? Because at the center of it we care about being good for our kids and this is a safe space where you can share ideas. There's no question that's too preposterous, there's no challenge that's too great where we can talk about them and because I've been in each of those positions I just offer a different perspective. More like the having a fly on the wall, like did you think of it this way ? Did you think of it that way ?What about this ? Did you know that this is a resource ? Did you know that this is a context that people are making that decision in ? And so it's really an opportunity for everyone to hear each other but in a way where we can actually be heard.
This is a podcast for anybody that has something that they want to share. We will take the video conversations and we'll segment them so that as the conversation kind of meanders then they'll be small chunks for you to listen to you won't have to sit and listen to 20 minutes of a podcast or an hour because we'll segment it. We want to make sure that we talk with regular people, who are in the field some of them have a high level of expertise and may even be experts, but we're talking about things that even they are thinking about. Again, we're not entering the space as a this is a you know it all kind of space. This is really an opportunity just for us to be heard and just for us to share, so i would invite anyone who's listening to this podcast to go to www.oaktreelearningcenter.com and click on our podcast with Mrs.C. It says Mrs.C's Podcast for Teachers, Parents and Administrators, so if you're any one of those three, you know that this that's the place for you and we really will talk about things that cover preschool, middle school, elementary school, college and even now, I'm in the point where I'm helping my adult children so we may wander into that territory. But you can send a question to me and we can sit and have a conversation and you might be able to be recorded so that you can share some of the things that are on your mind. As well this is a safe space and so we invite people to make comments, but we do regulate the comments to make sure that they are not attacking or judging or making people feel like their perspective is somehow invalid this is really meant to be a sharing space and so I would love to hear from you.
I can't wait for you to hear the rest of the episodes. We have some really exciting stuff coming up. We have a conversation about raising financial literacy in children, we have a conversation that's coming up where we're talking about how to really see kids, we always talk about you know we want to be inclusive, but as teachers how do you make sure you're actually seeing kids and what prevents you from seeing them. We have a conversation about raising children who are biracial, multi-racial or bi-cultural. We have another conversation about how to sneak in math assessment without a feeling like math assessment, and so we have a wide range a really, really wide array of conversations that we're going to have and so I can't wait for you to hear them. Please be on the lookout for our updates. Just make sure that you sign up for our email and you'll get an email every time we have a new episode. So in the meantime, think about what you have on your mind and again just send it to me at oaktreelearningcenter.com, clicking the podcast button and I can't wait to hear from you.