What it’s like to work as a Lead Teacher at a CA Montessori Children’s Center
We’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week by introducing some of the outstanding Teachers at our company-subsidized, on-site Montessori Centers, which CA has provided for the past 25 years in our larger global offices for the children and family members of our employees. This profile of one of our Montessori Lead Teachers is part of our careers blog series “A Day in The Life At CA”.
Melissa Delapaz-Smith is a Lead Teacher at the CA Children’s Montessori Center in Islandia, NY, where she has been teaching for almost 16 years. She has always enjoyed spending time with young children such as her cousins, nieces, nephews and friends, so it was only natural that she became a teacher. When she was a student at Stony Brook University, she volunteered at an on-campus preschool. That’s when she saw an ad for an open house at the CA Montessori Children’s Center.
“I saw that it was a Montessori setting and it was something I was very interested in, having gone to a Montessori school myself as a child.”
Outside of work, Melissa has two daughters, ages 9 and 12, who dance competitively and play softball. Her husband is also a teacher who works with children who have autism and does early intervention.
“Our family is fully supportive of each other, so we are always there for our girls, going to their dance competitions and softball games.”
Melissa and her family, who live in Long Beach, also love to spend time outdoors riding bikes, running on the boardwalk, or going to the beach. They are also huge Yankees fans and love going to baseball games as often as they can!
An average day at work
Melissa, who is often the first teacher to arrive, starts her day by greeting the children and their parents. She sets up her classroom and talks to parents about the morning or anything eventful that happened the night before. The children then help get breakfast ready and eat. By 9:15, breakfast is cleared and the children start choosing activities to work on.
For the remainder of the morning, she presents lessons, takes notes and makes observations. The children go outside to play while Melissa takes her lunch break. After lunch she helps them clean up and get settled into the afternoon work cycle. Children who are not napping choose activities, then she typically works with kindergarteners in smaller group lessons.
By 3:15, the kindergarteners leave the classrooms for their specials. On Thursdays, she teaches them science, where they utilize the center’s certified outdoor classrooms, weather permitting. When weather doesn’t permit, lessons take place in the science classroom, where she has been incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineer and math) subjects. The children then usually leave between 5 and 6 p.m.
“I love the age group that I teach. Part of the Montessori philosophy is mixed ages in a classroom, and in my classroom, the children’s ages range from 3 to 6 years old … I enjoy watching the older children take [the toddlers] underneath their wings, and they want to help them so much.”
The Montessori Center
We asked Melissa what her favorite part of the center is.
“I think that one of the best things about our center is that it is so family oriented. Many of the staff members have been working here for over 10 years. We have families who have had all of their children in the center and some of those former students are now in college. I have students that I taught who are now in high school, some in college as well, and some I keep in touch with.”
She also loves her classroom.
“The best part about my classroom is that I know the parents feel like they are not just dropping off their children with a babysitter. They know that the children are feeling loved and cared for, but they are also learning and they are getting life skills like independence, self-help and love of learning to prepare them for the future.”
Teachers at our Montessori centers enjoy the full range of CA Technologies benefits. What is Melissa’s favorite?
“I honestly have to say that for me the best CA benefit is the Montessori Children’s Center. And I am not saying this because I work there. I was able to bring both of my girls to work with me every day from the time they were 3 months old. My managers and team members were so supportive of me, as I was also breastfeeding. I was able to step out of the classroom so that I could go downstairs and nurse.”
She also found CA and the CA Montessori Children’s Center to be very supportive when her family was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“I was able to take time off I needed and our family also received donations of clothing, supplies and emotional support. It was such a difficult time, but we were able to get through because of such support and caring.”
We asked Melissa what she would tell teachers wondering what it’s like to work for a school subsidized by a tech company, as opposed to a more traditional setting.
“It is such a unique environment, but I believe there are many benefits to being part of a tech company versus a school district. We are able to have all of the benefits CA employees have. We are also not restricted to take vacation during regular school vacations; we can take vacations at any time during the year.
“It is more of a family environment, instead of spending September through June with the children, you get to work with these children and their families for two to three years and really get to know them. I think you take an important role in shaping these children’s minds and really become a part of their families.
“I truly love what I do and the impact I have on these children’s lives. I feel fortunate to work for a company that places an importance on balancing work and family life.”