Educator Spotlight: MCE preschool teacher Sandy Gomez. 

January 9, 2022

Educator Spotlight: MCE preschool teacher Sandy Gomez. 

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

CUSTER – Mason County native Sandy Gomez graduated from West Shore Community College in 1979 with an associate degree in early childhood education and she walked straight into her first teaching job.

“My first  job was teaching preschool at Mason County Central Schools,”. Gomez said. “I taught there from September of 1979 until moving to Atlanta in 1986. I returned to Ludington in 1991 and ran my own daycare from 1996 until 1998.”

After closing her daycare in 1998, Gomez subbed for a while and then was hired by Ludington Area Schools to work as a one-on-one paraprofessional.

“I subbed at LASD for a year then was asked to be a para-pro with a student who had autism,” she said. “We were together for 10 years. I worked in the special education field for another two years after that.”

Looking for a more secure career in education, Gomez decided to return to college after she left her job in special education.

“I had always wanted to complete my education, so in the fall of 2008, I went back to WSCC to complete my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Ferris State University,” she said. “I worked for LASD in the preschool program for two years while I was completing my degree, then upon graduating in 2012, I obtained a full time teaching position at LASD and held this position until the fall of 2015 when I was asked to join Mason County Eastern Schools.”

This school year marked the beginning of Gomez’s seventh year at MCE and she loves going to her classroom each day to see all of her students, who are always eager to learn new things.

“The curriculum we use is called Connect For Learning and it is a child-based learning program,” Gomez said. “We as teachers set the guidelines for each activity, and the children use their thought processes to complete each task. C4L is based on research findings on the most effective practices for teaching math, science, literacy and social-emotional learning. To me, preschool sets the foundation for the love of learning. The children learn through play, they learn to take risks as well as to solve their own problems. One of the daily phrases we use with the children is ‘how do you know?’ When they make a discovery, they are encouraged to explain how they reached it. They are very inquisitive, so we encourage conversations that develop their vocabulary and cognitive skills.”

Gomez said that seeing her students learn new concepts has and will always be her favorite part of teaching.

“Watching the children reach a goal, no matter how small, is so rewarding,” she said. “They are encouraged to do things for themselves. They learn independence, responsibility, and compassion for each other. There are many times during the day that I observe their love for school through the conversations they have with each other.”

When the COVID pandemic hit, the educational field really felt a lot of the burdens that came along with the shutdown of the nation, but what a lot of people didn’t realize was that most preschool programs incorporate weekly home visits, and with the pandemic, this became impossible for most programs, making staff disconnect a lot with many of their families.

“Before COVID, we were able to visit each child’s home before they started school to make their transition from home to school easier on them,” Gomez said. “Parents were also encouraged to visit our classroom whenever they could especially to help celebrate birthdays and holidays. Since this is no longer possible, we have created a Facebook page strictly for our preschool families to communicate information between school and home.”

Even though careers in education face many challenges, Gomez encourages those who have a passion for children to look into education jobs further.

“My advice to those interested in a career in early childhood education would be that teaching is as rewarding as you make it to be,” she said. “If you put in the effort, love and compassion for your students, it will come back to you in ways you never thought possible. The students that I started with in 1979, are now parents of some of the students I currently teach. It is so fulfilling when a former student remembers your smile, a book you read or how they were treated. If I had to it over, I would still choose  the path of early childhood education and I would recommend it to anyone entering the educational field.”

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