“I dream of the day our leaders and administrators realize that developmentally appropriate education is the foundation for academic success. I dream of the day teachers are treated and compensated as professionals. I envision the time in which higher education among our teachers is the rule and not the exception.”
Sussette Torres, Coordinator for the Tohono O’odham Community of Practice, NAEYC Member since 1987
Tell us about your work with young children:
I started as an intern at one of the Child Development Centers for Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ and have since held several positions within the college. In 2012 I had the opportunity to work as a Child Care Support Specialist for the Easter Seals Blake Foundation. Working with the Hispanic population of three counties in the state, I developed a passion for empowering educators to voice their experiences as well as the obstacles they face when working with children. Currently, I work within a tribal community as the coordinator for the Tohono O’odham Community of Practice under the First Things First Great Expectations for Teachers, Children, Families and Communities grant. We support kindergarten transitions for tribal children and create opportunities for quality professional development and degree completion for educators in the Tohono O'odham Nation. This partnership with the Tohono O'odham Community College has created many different opportunities for learning and advancing my practices as mentor and ECE professional.
Why did you become an NAEYC member?
As a Child Care Support Specialist working with mainly Spanish speaking teachers, I found that the materials and publications NAEYC provide were an invaluable resource for my work.
What does your NAEYC membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career and influenced your work with young children?
Having access to a great deal of quality resources has influenced my work tremendously. Developmentally Appropriate Practice is one of the fundamental structures that guides our work with teachers i. Being a member has also opened the opportunity to become a member-at- large for the Southern Arizona AEYC board, where I have met extraordinary professionals that continue to inspire me.
What is your favorite NAEYC member benefit?
Tesoros y Colores (the Spanish translation of Teaching Young Children) is an excellent asset to my mentoring as I was able to provide teachers with relevant, researched-based information in their native language.
Young children are so inspiring. That’s why many of us are early childhood educators. Share one way a child has inspired you:
Children’s love for learning has been a catalyst in my teaching career. Early on, I realized that if I didn’t allow myself to learn from others, I was doing a disservice to my colleagues and the children I served. “Wanting to know more”has opened many doors to acquire more knowledge, and also to connect and share my passions with my colleagues.
What is your dream for the future of early-childhood education?
For children to have equal access to quality child care regardless of their geographical location or economic status. I dream of the day our leaders and administrators realize that developmentally appropriate education is the foundation for academic success. I dream of the day teachers are treated and compensated as professionals. I envision the time in which higher education among our teachers is the rule and not the exception.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy those “aha!” moments we share during our Community of Practice meetings. I like to think of these moments as a domino effect—teachers acquire new information which leads them to create connections to their practice, resulting in exciting, stimulating, and fun opportunities for learning for the children in the classroom. As a great added bonus I have the blessing of getting to know more about the Tohono O’odham culture and their values, all while I enjoy the beauty of the desert.
What three accomplishments, personal and/or professional you are most proud of?:
I have been very blessed to have many of my dreams come true in both my personal and professional life. Graduating from Pima Community College in 2007 remains one of my proudest moments because as a member of an immigrant family, I was able to honor my parents with an accomplishment which would have been difficult to achieve in Mexico, where I am from. Being awarded the All Arizona Academic Team Scholarship in 2014, which fully pays for my Bachelor’s degree today, is another major personal accomplishment. Additionally, participating in the Southern Arizona AEYC annual conference as a speaker for three consecutive years is something of which I am very proud.
What's your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is The Grouchy Lady Bug by Eric Carle. Not only do I find this book beautifully illustrated, catchy, and filled with valuable lessons for the children, but also I see it as a metaphor for the many grouchy and friendly ”lady bugs” I have had to the pleasure to encounter throughout my career—and how regardless of our different ways of seeing life, we have managed to; at the end of the day, share our passion for early education.