“I am a child development teacher at the Child and Family Development Center located at the old Navy base in North Charleston. I teach at risk three-year-olds — “at risk” meaning at risk for reading readiness and language and vocabulary development. We are a family literacy program, which is unique to Charleston Country Schools. We work very closely with our parents as an essential component to our program, which includes parent education, parent and child together time, and early childhood education.

“We have a GED program at our school. The way that our program works is this: if a parent is involved in the GED program, their child is allowed to attend the center for free. This way, they’re getting their GED, they’re bettering themselves, bettering their family because there’s a lot of research that shows that the success of the child depends on the education of the mother. We also work closely with them on things like reading-modeling strategies for reading to your child because the more you read and talk to your child, again, the better their chances are for their future successes.

“We like to give the kids hands-on experiences. We’re very into gardens — gardening and growing. We have a beautiful garden at our school and a woman from the Children’s Museum helps us grow our garden. So our children learn through the five senses and we incorporate a lot of that into the classroom. We’ve made pizza using the basil and oregano from our garden and right now we’re growing blueberries. They water them, they take care of them, so we’re teaching them responsibility and they’re learning the science aspect of it, too.

“Early childhood can be really hard, but I love my job, even when my kids are driving me crazy. A child that is in one minute frustrating is making me laugh the next minute, or they just want to hug and it melts your heart. This is why I do what I do, the little things make the biggest difference and that is my reward.” —as told to Kelly Smith