September 17, 2020

Master Teacher to Assistant Site Supervisor- A Journey of Discovery

By Valerie Kelly


It’s always rewarding to see returning staff, especially during uncertain times. Our staff are always at the core of our organization, continuing to provide an unmatched level of care. We thoroughly enjoyed being able to learn more about Paris Smith and her role as Assistant Site Supervisor at Richardson Catalyst Kids.

How long have you been with Catalyst? Have you had any other roles/titles with us?   

I’ve been with the company for almost 3 years in total now. I was a Master Teacher for the school-age program at Dan O Root II in Suisan City. I left for about a year and a half to relocate to Nevada and returned earlier this year as an Assistant Site Supervisor at our Richardson center in Fairfield.   

Tell me about your career and educational background. What roles were you in prior to coming to Catalyst?   

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from CSU Sacramento. Prior to coming to Catalyst, I was a Paraprofessional who worked with special needs students and I also spent some time as a Bridal Registry Consultant. Weddings are an exciting time in people’s lives and it was really cool to be able to be a part of that. Prior to that, I worked as a Resident Advisor (RA) at San Diego State University. 

Is there a particular experience/memorable moment that stands out to you in your time here at Catalyst?    

Being able to witness our center’s garden flourish. The staff really tried to do something with it and in the beginning, it really wasn’t growing. Once the kids got involved and started planting things, it became our outdoor classroom of sorts. Our children absolutely love gardening here, so just being able to see it grow and flourish was amazing, like seeing the flowers and squash grow. The children have taken the squash that we’ve grown and have added it into the meals here. We also have sunflowers that we’re growing and now being used in the classroom area. I’m so appreciative of our staff for taking a simple outdoor space and turning it into hands-on education for the children as well. Especially with all the fires going on, it’s amazing to see how resilient the garden is.  

What do you enjoy most about being an Assistant Site Supervisor or working here at Catalyst?   

“I love seeing the children get so excited about everything. I also really enjoy interactions with both the children, staff and our families especially right now when social interaction is much more limited due to COVID19.”

What does a typical day look like in the role as an Assistant Site Supervisor?  

My schedule varies day to day, but everything begins with being in ratio and I place myself in ratio, so I’m greeting families, answering any questions that parents or caregivers might have about enrollment and fees or just about how their child is doing in general. If it isn’t something that I can answer, I’ll redirect that question to staff that would know a bit more about a specific subject or let them know that I’ll get back to them when I have the information. I’ll engage and play with children.

“Usually, by the time I get there, they’re already engaged in play, so it’s easy to insert myself, take some notes or just watch them have a good time. They make me laugh every morning.”

I’ll answer emails and phone calls and then check in one on one with staff. I’ll help out with lunch and come outside for a little bit and do some outdoor supervision during our outdoor activities. Sometimes I’ll meet with parents and go over enrollment or recertification paperwork.  

Tell me something that you think makes our organization unique.   

Something that makes this organization unique is the focus on the social-emotional growth and development of children. In previous organizations I’ve worked at, it wasn’t a major component of their education. The focus was more on where they’re at academically before anything else if we did it at all.

“The fact that that is an essential theme for us is really telling, especially now when our entire way of socializing has changed.”

It’s more important than ever that we have this type of developmental emphasis. Another thing the company really does well at is ensuring resources are available for staff. There are a lot of things readily accessible to staff that may not be otherwise, like training modules.