40 Years of Excellence in Early Learning Education
Rosanne DeGregorio recently celebrated her retirement after 40 years in early childhood education. She made an immeasurable impact on the lives of thousands of children and families, as well as her fellow teachers and staff who had the opportunity to learn from her.
The spring of her senior year of college, Rosanne’s sister called to invite her to apply at One Hope United’s Bridgeport I Early Learning Center. She enjoyed her summer so much that she decided to continue teaching at the center. Her experience with one student in particular helped Rosanne see that teaching truly was her calling.
Rosanne was warned that Jo* would be challenging to work with. As weeks passed and Rosanne continued working with Jo, she spent time getting to know her. Rosanne learned that a lot was going on in Jo’s life, and her life outside of school was obviously affecting her ability to focus and perform to the best of her ability in the classroom. Jo and Rosanne became close, and over time, Rosanne taught techniques to help Jo manage her emotions. “I wanted to continue my career in education because of Jo,” Rosanne shared. “Seeing her blossom into a smart, funny student, making friends and enjoying her life, was so rewarding.”
Rosanne was eventually promoted to Director and earned a scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She developed strong relationships with staff across One Hope United’s early learning programs, and felt her professional experiences were part of her personal evolution throughout the years. “I’ve always wanted to be in a helping profession. Having a job that has meaning and serves families has meant everything to me,” she said.
Rosanne also shared that she chose to build her career at One Hope United because of the organization’s rich history, and its potential for growth. A few years after she began working at the Brideport I Center, it became the first OHU Early Learning Center to become certified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Rosanne was part of the group of educators promoting the importance of NAEYC certification, and understood it was an important distinction which would show the high quality of education OHU Early Learning Centers provided.
A few of Rosanne’s favorite memories from her career include the thanksgiving dinner Ms. Sadie served at Bridgeport I, staff camping trips, and seeing future generations of families return to the center for their children’s education.
When asked what advice Rosanne would share with a teacher beginning their career in early education, Rosanne shared, “With so many changes in our world today – from the impact of COVID-19 to changes in funding streams – it’s so important to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. This field is hard, and it requires your whole heart and soul. You must love this work, and love serving people.”
In retirement, Rosanne is looking forward to traveling in Italy and Hawaii, and spending time with family. She plans to stay connected to One Hope United, and to early childhood education. “This is my life’s work, and I still have more to contribute,” Rosanne concluded.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
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