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Staff Spotlight: Gino Hernaiz

Meet Gino Hernaiz, (center) Lead Preschool Teacher at the Aurora Early Learning Center!

What is your job title & how long have you been an employee at OHU?

I am a lead preschool teacher here at the Aurora Early Learning Center and I have been employed here since October 10, 2016.

What sparked your interest in this career field?

My interest has ALWAYS been in the education field. My brother is 7 years younger than me and my sister is 6 years younger than me and when they were younger, I would pretend to be their teacher and actually teach them. I would print worksheets, make my own gradebook, etc. Going into college, I majored in psychology because I wanted to learn more about personality and the brain in hopes of one day teaching it myself. I ended up finding a job as an assistant teacher at an early childhood center in LaSalle, Illinois and since then, I have found that I truly enjoy working with children and seeing their growth and development. It is an amazing opportunity to get to develop relationships with the children and seeing them laugh and just be there for them through the good and the bad.

I also have a big interest in baking and cooking, so I try to incorporate a food experience in my classroom twice a month which the children have tons of fun with! It’s funny because I have a YouTube baking/cooking channel and some of the children actually tell their parents about it and they watch it and try to reenact some cooking techniques and baking techniques when they play in the kitchen dramatic play center.

Why is early childhood education so important?

Early childhood education is crucial because it is a key foundation for learning. Through early childcare, children can really learn a multitude of skills ranging from social to physical, and the core learning subjects including science, mathematics, and language.

Can you share a success story or something you are most proud of doing in your role?

Being a preschool teacher, I have come across many obstacles and challenges. One such challenge was a child who had come into my classroom late October of 2017. From the first day, she was throwing tantrums, flipping tables, and did not really know how to vocalize any frustrations. She did not want anything to do with circle time or small group activities and was sometimes hostile towards teachers and children. After many conversations with the child and her family and numerous attempts to try and learn the best ways to interact with her, I can say that she has made an enormous amount of progress.

Last week, she moved up into the next age classroom and the progress and development that she has made is truly remarkable. She went from fighting with children and running around the classroom and dumping out bins of toys without cleaning them up, to being able to socialize and interact with some of the other children and actually playing with the toys in the classroom. She went from someone inclined to use physical means to someone who can now acknowledge the feelings of others and understand that hitting is not a nice thing to do. She went from someone who refused to join circle time or small group activities to being a major component of them. This progress is one of the many things that I am truly proud of.  She has been stopping by every morning before going to her new classroom to give me a hug and to tell me that she misses me. I tell her that the children and I miss her as well and that we will see her in the hallways when we pass her classroom. This is one example of a relationship with a child that makes this job so incredibly rewarding despite the difficulty that may arise through the process.

What are you most excited about as far as the future of your role?

I am most excited about my future here at One Hope United. I am someone that absolutely loves to learn and I am excited to hopefully learn new roles and gain new responsibilities as my time with the organization continues in order to positively impact the classroom environment and the work environment.