*Ms. Devin Esparza
I graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education in 2003. I began my career by developing and teaching in an infant-toddler program. In 2006 I applied for and was awarded a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to teach Preschool for All, where I taught for 7 years. After taking some time off to spend time with my children, I eased back in by substitute teaching at Reed Custer Elementary school. In 2017 I was hired to teach Kindergarten (my dream job) at the Coal City Early Childhood Center.
Why did you want to become National Board Certified?
Throughout my years of teaching, I have always strived to teach in the most developmentally appropriate ways, and I wanted to continue to learn about how our little friends learn best. Instead of pursuing a Master's degree, I decided that I instead wanted to follow a process that let me examine what I am currently doing and improve through new learning and reflection, to make a bigger impact in my classroom. The National Board certified teachers that I worked with were also a huge inspiration.
What was the most difficult aspect of going through the process?
At the beginning of the process, the amount of writing required seemed overwhelming. In the end, it was actually more difficult to cut each of my papers down enough to meet the requirements, without deleting helpful information. The writing style is very different than any college paper I have ever written.
What was the most rewarding part of the process?
The most rewarding part of the process was staying up late and opening up my scores to see fireworks with my own children. They watched me spend countless hours studying and writing papers at home over the years, so it was very special to share the excitement with them. I also love the changes that it has helped me make for the better in my classroom and building.
What advice would you give others thinking about starting the process?
I would urge anyone who is thinking about certification to start now! We have an amazing cohort here that I miss dearly. The process has given me more confidence as an educator and has helped me to continually reflect on and improve my practices. Even if I had not yet passed, I would not have regretted the process.
How has this made you a better educator?
This process has helped me learn to reflect even deeper on how and why I teach each lesson. I have learned successful ways to advocate for each of my students and how to build even better relationships with them and their families.