Read about one of our stellar teachers: Rochelle Cowart. She has been at Second Home Child Development Center for three years and is looking forward to being there for her fourth year this upcoming fall. She is one of our Great Start Readiness Lead Program Teachers.
“Have Ms. Rochelle on staff has been amazing. For the past three years and hopefully for many more to come, she is committed to the Second Home family. She makes sure that every child has the opportunity to succeed and we are grateful,” Michelle Nighbert, Director of the Second Home Child Development Center, said.
What inspired you to work in a school setting?
I have always known that I would be a teacher and teach in preschool. I have always loved school, loved to learn and loved my educational experience.
As a prior military wife, I had the opportunity to receive my education in Alaska and Texas while finishing my bachelor’s at Michigan State University. I am currently working on my Master’s in Early Childhood Studies.
Before Second Home, where did you work?
I ran my own in-home early learning center, worked at corporate childcare centers as an infant and toddler lead teacher and nannied for micro-preemie quadruplets. I was also a teaching assistant for the Child Development courses at Michigan State.
What was the deciding factor in choosing to teach at Second Home?
I chose to work at Second Home because of their utilization of Montessori curriculum and their willingness to educate their staff in the Montessori studies. Our director, Michelle, also creates a very empathetic and individualized environment, which allows for a healthy work and home balance.
How do you build a familiy-like atmosphere in your classroom?
In my classroom, I work to earn each child’s and each family’s respect from the second we meet. I spend a lot of time getting to know each family member and each child before the school year even begins so that each family member and each child feels valued and welcome in the classroom. Creating these positive relationships really creates a stronger “buy-in” from family members and children. I plan activities for family members to participate in the classroom throughout the year. I also spend time talking with each family member every morning and every afternoon.
What’s your secret ingredient in your classroom?
My secret ingredient is love. I am constantly telling the children that I love them and offering hugs when they don’t seem like their happiest selves. This year, I started offering hugs and telling each child “I like you” when we hug and the mood in the classroom changed so much in such a short time. Children who struggled with touch, children who I struggled to have a relationship with, the “tough” ones all really lit up with this daily ritual.
I also implemented daily vocabulary lessons surrounding the power of our words; each day we read a sentence that says “I am brilliant” or “we are intelligent” to practice our sight words and using our words in a positive way. It was amazing to watch the children then tell their family members that they are brilliant and wonderful!
What is your favorite part of teaching?
My favorite part of teaching has always been just watching the children. Observing them in their play and watching them carry out their own curiosities is fascinating. It’s amazing how much growth you can see just by watching them work.
How would your students best describe you?
My students have described me as silly, fun, loving and brave. Many of them say brave because I introduce several living things into our classroom each year and I encourage them to brave, instead of scared, of the living things.
How would your colleagues describe you?
Colleagues have described me as compassionate, fun, loving, empathetic and creative. They have said that I am always willing to step up and help out, very dedicated to the experience that the children have each day in my classroom and understanding with the families of our children.