Her original goal was to be an elementary school teacher, but Jan found something better.
Seventeen years ago, Jan was taking classes to get her master’s degree in teaching and decided to work at Community Connections in the meantime. She enjoyed her work here so much that she decided to stay, and work with families in the Developmental Disabilities program. She worked there for 9 years, and then transferred to the Early Learning Program.
Jan may not work in a school, but she’s still a teacher: educating and coaching families and their children every day. Jan works with families who have very young children, ages birth to three.
“I love being with the kids, and coaching parents,” she says. “As an educator, I enjoy seeing the “aha” moments parents have as they realize the simple strategies they can offer their child to be successful.”
Strategies include things like positioning the child correctly in a highchair, or knowing the sounds that come first (B-M-P) so they can encourage their child to imitate the sound.
Her job is most rewarding when families get excited to learn about their kids’ development and start to see progress.
“It’s not just play,” she says. Each activity has a specific role in furthering the child’s development. For example, “peek-a-boo” builds object permanence, and helps a child to be less anxious when a parent is out of the room.
Jan visits families in their home and works with them on skills that the therapists have recommended. She often educates families on the social-emotional piece of development, something that physical or occupational therapists might not touch on.
She says one of the challenges is convincing some families, who feel they don’t need to be in the program, to get involved.
“It’s for everyone,” she says. Not just children who have developmental delays. It’s good for every family to be involved in their child’s development, and to be able to encourage growth and skill-building. “They can be their child’s teacher.”
Thanks Jan for the great work you do!
In her free time, Jan enjoys fishing for halibut, beachcombing for glass balls, making pieces for the next wearable art show, drawing, and singing (sometimes).
We feature staff as part of our monthly Stellar Staff Spotlight. The spotlight rotates between programs (Children’s Mental Health, Early Learning, and Senior & Disability Services), and between Ketchikan and Prince of Wales, with a focus on recognizing direct service staff.