Person of the Week
After School Care Assistant
They go to school in the morning – sometimes at 7:30 am — and may not go home until 6:00 pm. They don’t have their parents around. I think that is why I have stayed so long.
1. What led you to the mission of being an after school assistant?
I had been a preschool teacher for over thirty-five years. I had a friend’s son in school. She came to me and asked if I would come and work at the before and after school program. I told her I would. I told her I would be there a year and now I have already been there eight years!
I have always been good with kids and I love children. After my daughter went to kindergarten, I asked myself, “What should I do now?” I started a preschool in my home for two years. A friend asked me if I would come and work at another preschool. That’s where I stayed for thirty-five years. It was all very nice. We were like family.
I got to the point where it was hard to pick up the preschoolers and I realized I needed to leave my preschool job. That’s when I was asked to come to the after school program. There is also a need to take care of older kids and these kids were older than the preschoolers. (Kindergarten through fourth grade.)
Kids need good role models. If you get a child over the hump of something they can’t do, they learn to do it, and then they feel good about themselves. This is important for children. What they need is somebody who is caring and someone they can show their homework or their books to – or whatever. Working as an after school assistant is rewarding to the children and it is rewarding to me because I have helped a child when the mother is not there.
2. What does this mission mean to you?
It makes me feel very good because the children don’t have their parents there and they need teachers that are very loving and will listen to them. It makes me feel good about myself too – to help children.
The after school program has also allowed me to meet a lot of interesting and nice people. My director is great and I love what she does with the kids. We have become friends, we talk things over, and it is nice to have all these people around.
I ask myself, “If I quit what am I going to do?” I can exercise or play games, but I feel like it is wasting my time to sit down for too long. There are so many things to do in the world. I love children! Giving them love is rewarding. I am there for the children to give them love and to be there for them. They go to school in the morning – sometimes at 7:30 am — and may not go home until 6:00 pm. They don’t have their parents around. I think that is why I have stayed so long.
Being at school is very rewarding. I can be with the kids and teach them something or show them how to do something and they are listening and they are doing it. There is a little boy who could have an attention deficit. He just keeps moving and moving and moving around. All I do is give him some attention. I think it helps for him to see somebody who loves him. That’s my feeling about the children. You show them love and attention and it is good for them.
3. What was your best day as an after school assistant?
I could never think of just one thing. There are a number of things. I just enjoy being with the children. If we have a good day it is wonderful. But if I have to help a child that has problems – that is a good day as well. I have so many things that I like doing with them.
For instance there is a little first grader who is so dear. Last year she came in as a kindergartener. At the end of the school day, she was so tired. She would come over and put her head down. One day she came over, put her head down, I patted her head, and she fell asleep. This year she can hold her own!
I just love these children and love having them in my life. All my friends are asking, “When are you finally going to give them up?” I say, “I’ll let you know!” But I figure I won’t leave until I can’t do it any more. I told my director, “Well, maybe I’m getting too old to do all this. Are you sure you want me?” She said, “Oh yah. When you are ready to go, you will tell me!” That was very sweet of her.
4. What was your worst day as an after school assistant?
For a period of time we had seventy-five children. That meant I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to spend with them all. That was not a good time for me. I felt like I was racing from one child to another to take time with them. This wasn’t really a bad day. It was a hard day. This year is much easier because there are fewer children and I can spend much more time with each one.
5. How did you survive your worst day?
Determined! I won’t give up. I keep going. I keep fighting for what I want to do. I won’t give up! If I gave up, I would lose. Determination. It is my make-up. If I am helping somebody, I won’t give up. I might get mad some times at certain things. But with the kids, they need somebody that is caring a loving.
I don’t think about it too much. I just do it. I do what needs to be done. When they need to be disciplined, I tell them. They listen to me. They know I’m not going to go back on my word. I think I was born this way. My mother used to put babies on my lap and the neighbor used to say to her, “Why is Gloria taking care of the children?” It must have been in me because I didn’t resent it. My mother expected everything of me. I came through.
When my husband and I were dating, we got married earlier than we thought because he had to go over to Guam. I was eighteen and he was nineteen. My mother in law came over to the house. She said, “How can we let them get married? They are too young?” My mother looked at her and said, “Because Gloria can handle everything. You don’t have to worry.” That’s my personality. I’m determined and I’ll fight for something. I always have.