Nominated by parent, Mayra Duran:

Patricia Jolly is an Early Childhood Education Specialist and was also elected state delegate to the National Education Assembly (NEA) this year. P.J. was my son's first teacher for preschool. She specializes in teaching children with speech issues and children that need special attention. My son loved her the first time he met her. She has such a great personality. All of the children love her. My son has progressed so much in his speech this past year. I can't thank her enough for being an awesome teacher!

Congratulations Patricia, from all of us at K103!

What inspired you to become an educator?

I think it stemmed from my love of words (the dictionary was a favorite of mine), reading, and discovery. Books can take a person outside of their world to places one has never been and math is everywhere. I wanted to share that joy with others who are not able to access equitable educational opportunities that all children should have in our country.

What do you like most about teaching?

First of all, the students! I also enjoy being able to work with families in helping to build foundations for their children at home and when they start school. Being a teacher also helps my thirst for lifetime learning, which is what we do.

What has changed the most since you began your career in education?

The teacher's role has changed to be more of a caregiver and counselor, as well as educator. Part of this is due to worsening economic conditions. Also teachers do not seem to be as respected as in the past. We have become the scapegoats for what is wrong in the U.S. Administration keeps attempting to make us just a number. Working with human beings is a dynamic process, but all the human services that we need to create a better society keeps getting cut. Education is a service, not a business.

What would you like parents to know about your job?

My job takes a lot of commitment and caring. Children do best in that environment. Yeah, there is the paperwork and miscellaneous chores, but children and families are the main priority. Parents need to share with each other and their leaders how valuable the programs preparing their children for kindergarten and life are.

Share a favorite story about your years in education.

I once had a child who had been asked to leave from several preschool environments due to "challenging behavior". Yes, the child could be a "human tornado", but he was trying to communicate his needs the only way he knew how. It was our job to find out what he was communicating. We worked hard to to figure out how to help him regulate his "engine" because there were other factors, including vision and sensory processing skills that impacted him as well. With positive reinforcement, acceptance of him as a contributing member of our class, and exploring how he got his needs met, we were able to coach him to problem solve, use his language, and learn replacement behaviors to replace the unacceptable ones. He went to Kindergarten and has been successful and well- liked by others.