Welcome to the second in our series of “A Day in the Life” photo journals documenting the workdays of our staff, and the people we serve.
Angelica Nieves- Infant Teacher
CEO’s Community Resource Center, Troy NY
Angelica arrives at the Community Resource Center and gets ready for the day. Drop-off starts almost immediately, with parents saying their goodbyes and heading off to work. There are eight infants enrolled in this classroom, seven boys and one girl, but one of the babies is out sick today, so it will only be seven total.
Infants can join the class at six weeks old. The youngest currently enrolled is seven months, and the oldest is eighteen months. “It’s a big age difference,” says Angelica, “but we make it work.” While the babies all arrive, Angelica puts out a few toys to keep the group occupied.
It’s breakfast time! Today the menu is oatmeal with peaches. Feeding the babies is a challenge; everyone is at a different stage and all still need help. Angelica cuts up the peaches and helps some of the older kids use a spoon. The other teachers help with the younger babies, and although it gets messy, everyone seems satisfied with their breakfast.
After breakfast the babies brush their teeth (with more than a little assistance from the teachers), and those in need get a diaper change. With seven babies this is quite the feat to tackle in 30 minutes, but Angelica has been working in the infant room for ten years, and she makes it look easy.
Once everyone is cleaned up, the group heads over to the gross motor room for some bigger active play time. During nicer weather, the teachers may take them out for a walk in strollers, or to the playground, but it’s cold and snowy today. The infants immediately get to work making the most of the gross motor room. With such a wide range of large plush blocks to climb on, balls to roll, and areas to explore the room is full of movement. Angelica spends some time on one of the mats with the youngest infants, who explore on their tummies, or play with toys propped up with a pillow.
Back in the classroom, everyone gets their hands washed and a diaper check before participating in an activity. Angelica gets out some plastic Easter eggs and lets the group explore opening and closing them, and putting them in baskets. Some of the younger babies are getting ready for a morning nap. One baby in particular settles in with a bottle on Angelica’s lap while the others play. Another baby is already asleep in the lap of a Foster Grandparent.
With the youngest babies asleep, the four older boys settle in with some books before lunch. Even with eight babies, everyone is able to get some one-on-one time with each teacher. Books are a favorite with a few in this classroom. Some days the older boys will do a more involved activity like finger painting or playing at the water table, but everyone is content with some reading today.
Lunchtime! Angelica helps some of the older boys feed themselves at a small table, and keeps the little guys in the highchairs stocked with small grab-able bites of hamburger, mixed vegetables, and pears.
Eating lunch is a tiring affair; one of the babies in the highchair is already asleep. Angelica leaves him be for a few minutes, and gives the other baby a bottle while she helps brush the teeth and wash the hands of the older two boys. To put two of the boys down for a nap, Angelica and one of the other teachers put them in cribs, and rub their backs, while the Foster Grandparent puts on some soothing music and lowers the blinds. Not everyone is on the same nap schedule, so two other babies spend a little time playing quietly on one of the mats before settling down a little later.
With babies waking up from naps, Angelica takes care of some diapers and gets a few of the boys into activities on the floor before getting afternoon snack ready. Today it’s blueberries and cottage cheese. Everyone is very excited about afternoon snack. With a few in highchairs, and a few at the table, everyone takes a few minutes to work on those fine motor skills and enjoy their snack.
After everyone is cleaned up, it’s back to the gross motor room. Angelica wheels four of the babies in an evacuation crib, and then helps them all find a space in the room to explore and play. The Community Resource Center is one of the only CEO centers that offers an extended day; with many of our other centers closing at 2pm. Angelica has two kids of her own, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, both of whom attended Head Start programs. “One went here, and the other went to the Troy FRC,” says Angelica, “they are great programs, I’m so glad my kids were able to participate!”
After a half an hour or so in the gross motor room, the teachers bring the infants back to the classroom to settle into activities until pick-up time. Blocks, cars, and books are all popular with the older kids. A few of the younger babies really enjoy a sensory board with sticky tape and other textures.
All the babies have been picked up, and Angelica heads home for the day.
Two Questions for Angelica:
What do you like most about being an infant teacher?
“I get to spend the day with them, and watch them grow and learn. It’s nice to see them go through all the Head Start classrooms too. Every day we watch the preschoolers walk by our classroom, and they wave. Many of those kids were once babies in this classroom. Sometimes they come back even when they are in elementary school just to say “hi.””
What would you want a perspective teacher to know about this job?
“You can make a difference in a child’s life. With their parents working all day, this is a big chance for them to grow attached to someone new. You can show them things and watch them understand and make sense of the world. That connection really matters. “
Want to join our team and become an infant teacher? check out our current openings in our career center!