January 13, 2021

Teaching through a pandemic and keeping it fun!

By Valerie Kelly


We’re so incredibly grateful for all our hardworking staff on the front lines during this pandemic. As we all know, especially during difficult times like these, it definitely takes a village. Our Teachers are at the core of our organization and are the heart of what we work for in providing for our communities, families & children. We recently got a glimpse at what our current climate looks like in our Oxnard region with Lawana Greene, a Teacher at our Juanamaria center whose passion for serving our children and families shines through her amazing work.

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

I’ve been with the organization since 1998. I’m a Teacher at Juanamaria and I’ve worked at Port Hueneme for about five years as well as Haycoxand also spent some time as an Assistant Supervisor at Sheridan Way. 

What roles were you in prior to coming to Catalyst?  

I was a Site Supervisor for the Boys and Girls club preschool. I worked on their budgets, picked up the kids from school, and took the kids on field trips. 

Is there a particular experiences/memorable moments that stand out to you in your time here at Catalyst?  

Not too long ago, I was at Sheridan Way during distanced learning and one of the girls came up to me and told me about how her mom used to have me as her teacher. She said, “My mom said you always used to help her out, you used to plan the most fun activities and you’re so nice.” 

The fact that her mom remembered me really touched my heart. She kept saying that her mom really enjoyed having me as her teacher. 

Her mom ended up connecting with me on Facebook and said, “Hey, I was at the center, but you probably didn’t recognize me.” She was all grown up. It’s such an honor to have a student return as a parent and remember you and all of the fun times they had. 

What do you enjoy most about being a Teacher or working here at Catalyst?  

I really enjoy working with the children as well as the families. I love seeing the growth in the program. With the added component of distance learning, there was a bit of a learning curve for the children, but once they figured it out, they were so excited. The kids have different schedules at different schools as well as different times they had to get on Zoom. We started utilizing a visual schedule to put on the wall for both the kids and teachers to make it easier for calls, especially since the kids go to different schools. 

What does a typical day look like in the role as a Teacher? 

The kids come in in the morning and wash their hands & take their temperatureSome kids have distance learning at 8 am, breakfast, and then get on their devices for distance learning. That usually goes until 11 am or 12 pm and then lunch until 130 and then we do our small groups. It’s a daily routine. We do inside and outside recreationsnacks, clubs, and 30-fit. Sometimes the kids go outside but if they have extra homework, we allow them time for that and just do quiet activities. At snack time recently, the kids were talking about the different varieties of apples and talked about what their favorite apple wasWe decided to do an apple tasting with different apples while noting their favorites on a chartAfter that, we made caramel apples with the children’s apple of choice using different toppings like Oreos and sprinkles.   

We recently did a giving tree. We actually found it outside and one of the girls said, “Bring it in, it looks like a Christmas tree!” We painted it and the kids put glitter on it. They even made bulbs. In our 30-fit program, our kids have an opportunity to make a fake “dollar” per lap that they run and collect. On Fun Fridays, we have a little store where they can use the dollars earned at the store to buy gifts. At the store, items usually include donations brought in by parents, like books and toys like play dough, rulers, pencils, crayons. Sometimes things like science kits or basketball hoops.  

One of the girls mentioned wanting to give a gift to one of her friends for the holidays and the kids decided to use their “dollars” to buy items at the store for their friends. They bought gifts at the store one Friday and wrapped them. The kids were so excited and right before winter break, they gave the gifts to their friendsOne of the girls even read about the story of the giving tree to the children so they’d understand the process of giving. Some of the children even made their friends a gift, like one child made their friend a bracelet that they were so excited to receive. One of our parents said that her daughter was so excited to give her friend her gifts. She couldn’t wait to get to school. “I know he’s going to like it,” she said, because he loves playing basketball.”  

Tell me something that you think makes our organization unique. 

Our organization has great community outreach and resources. Employees are treated well, and the company provides a program that is unique to the childcare industry. 

We’re dealing with challenging times right now and I think it so amazing that we’re able to stay open and be there for the kids and families when they need it most. 

Some children do well with distance learning while for others, it’s a little more challenging and it’s been so great to be able to be here to help them through it.