Monday, April 1, 2024

Early Childhood Education - A Calling

Reflections on Early Career Choices 

Originally published on Monday, May 16, 2016, at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

I have had opportunities to work for many types of schools in the field of Early Childhood Education over the past 20 + years.  Child Development has always my passion when it comes to a career choice.  I was fortunate enough to have amazing mentors during my very early years in this field and owe much of my continued interest in quality childcare to these individuals.  

My first experience in a "day care" setting was way back when I was eighteen years old and fresh off the Pan Am Jumbo Jet in Heidelberg, Germany. My first boss was Denise Flowers, who was kind and guided me through some rough moments as I learned the ropes as a Part Time Caregiver working with Infants and Toddlers. On the Army Military base at Patrick Henry Village there was a section of a billeting building that had been converted for childcare. I eventually moved up to working full time while I attended University of Maryland - European Division in the evenings and on weekends.  I was sometimes asked to help out at other locations, and I gladly boarded the military bus to go across town to help before attending evening classes. I couldn't get enough hours! I love working and learning about child development. 

The next director I worked with was Stephanie Morales. She had this amazing energy that was frenetic, sometimes frustrating, but very passionate about her role in providing quality childcare for the children of military service members.  We butted heads a couple of times, but I learned about management from her.  I learned that staffing needs are a dynamic process, and it is important to really get to know each person who works with you...that includes their strengths and where training challenges should be addressed. I learned that the hard way. I also learned about recycling.  One day we were driving through Kirchheim, a town with some narrow streets. We stopped at a red light right behind a Mercedes Garbage truck. There were several perfectly intact boxes sticking out of the open back. She got out of the car and had no hesitation going up to the gentlemen on the back of the truck to ask for those boxes to use at school. I will never forget her willingness to go the extra mile to commandeer supplies for our children.

When we moved to a newly constructed childcare center with a capacity for over 300 children, I was introduced to my new mentor and director for infant/toddler programming, Donna Repaty. I would not be the advocate and child development specialist I am today without her amazing influence and supervision. She was there for me as I worked through my social work degree and completed an internship with 130th station hospital - Exceptional Family Member Services (EFMS), which provided intervention and services for children from birth through eighteen who had medical and developmental needs. It was because of her and the center director, Kris Gingras, that I moved up to Infant/Toddler program director. I cannot thank those strong, incredibly supportive women enough for their guidance and encouragement. Never underestimate the power of mentoring those who are coming up in the field.

Where I am today......

I remember writing the above post, and ironically decided the go through my old posts today as I prepare for one of my assignments. I am now working toward my master's in clinical counseling degree, and this term I am taking Human Growth and Development. Reviewing early childhood concepts and theories reignited my memories from early career choices. I am forever grateful for those early mentors who coached, supervised, redirected, and provided endless encouragement during a critical period in my life. I was not only working and attending college courses, but also entering into early adulthood, with all the complicated nuances of getting my own apartment, figuring out how to be on my own after being in a large family, and being by myself in a foreign country after my father was stationed back stateside. So many warm feelings of appreciation have resurfaced as I revisited this post and reflected on my current employment situation. Wishing all employees had the opportunity to experience the mentorship that shaped my career choices from day one. 

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

 Contact me at for information to schedule
a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
I can also assist with written communication needs.
Rates are negotiable.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Elementary School Melt Downs

 Elementary School Melt Downs 
Consequences of Being A Brave Friend

Ten Year Anniversary of this Post

Originally published on Friday, March 28, 2014, at The Mother Freakin' Parent (Hood)

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Recently my third-grade son got into the car after school and was in tears. These were tears of frustration after many months dealing with a challenging classmate. He finally reached his limit and provided his classmate with the universal sign for "leave me alone I'm tired of your @!#?"  The teacher who escorted my son to the car to explain what had gone down was sympathetic and almost apologetic that she had to inform me of my son's "communication technique". She promised to let the teacher know why this had happened so that the situation could be resolved.

I calmly informed my son that I was not upset with him and waited for him to settle down.  He told me that one of his classmates had falsely accused his friend of doing something for which she was not responsible. My son stood up for his friend and asked the other classmate to stop his accusations. When the classmate did not cease his finger pointing, my son became upset, and the conversation escalated to the point that inappropriate finger gesturing occurred.

It turned out that the "tattle tale" classmate had a long history of participating in his little game of judgments. He had a habit of falsely accusing his peers of activities just to get a reaction. I explained why some children may feel a need to act this way. We discussed appropriate dialogue and strategies to deal with such situations. The most important thing is that no matter what another child says, he should never allow himself to get so frustrated that he physically strikes out. I could see how such a situation could escalate to the point where punches are thrown, or someone is wrestled to the ground. NOT acceptable strategies.

I immediately called the school to report the incident and follow up with the appropriate individuals who could assist with this matter. I knew that the teacher in attendance during dismissal would be reporting the concerns as well. I left a message for my son's third grade teacher and for the school counselor. I gave the information that was available and also included what I hoped would happen:
"Please help the children discuss their concerns and provide them with some communication strategies to help them reach a resolution. Let me know how I can follow up with your recommendations at home."
This communication with the school was important because I wanted the school to know I was aware of the situation.  I gave a specific request for them to consider.  I also wanted the school to know I was a part of the solution to the problem and was willing to follow up with their recommendations.  The team approach was very necessary to ensure that a repeat of the situation does not occur.

I was pleased the get a follow up call the following day from the school counselor who had taken time to speak to both of the boys involved.  She made sure they knew to ask a teacher or counselor for help if they had any other difficulties with communication. Both children felt empowered to resolve their differences.  I let the counselor know I appreciated her time and quick attention to the matter.  I emphasized again how I feel that we are a team and I will continue to encourage my child to discuss his concerns in an appropriate manner.

Make no mistakes here. I am a mama bear. If I had not received a timely response to the matter or felt in any way that our concerns had not been addressed, I would have shown up in person. (I have no qualms about making an appointment with the principal or teachers involved.) The keys to ensuring that your child's voice is heard include:

1.  Use a Respectful yet Confident Voice to express your concerns.

2.  Be specific. What happened and what do you want the school to do to address the challenges?

3.  Inform the school what you have already done to help resolve the issue.

4.  What you are willing to do to be a catalyst for positive change?

5. Make sure you follow up with compliments and reassure the school that you appreciate the "Team Approach."

Advocacy for your child often involves unexpected and on the spot problem solving.  Confidently and respectfully pursue what you know is best for you child!

Additional note for the 10 Year Anniversary of this post

It has been ten years since this incident, and I am happy to report that all three of my children, including the one involved in this article, are showing signs of being excellent advocates for their peers, for themselves, and for their coworkers. Developing a sense of equitable treatment of others, ethical personal and business practices, and a sense of responsibility for self and others is a cumulative skill that requires practice. I also continue to demonstrate advocacy skills and practice communication in my personal and professional life. Although it can be uncomfortable to confront inequities, it is important to be true to yourself, represent what is right and just, and hopefully make things better for those with whom you share space on this crazy, spinning planet. We're here to support each other, and anything less than respectful interactions needs to be appropriately addressed. 

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

 Contact me at for information to schedule
a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
I can also assist with written communication needs.
Rates are negotiable.




Saturday, January 20, 2024

Moments for a Sunday 2024


Originally published 11/19/2017

Today's Goals:

S - Savoring these moments of peace
allows us time to
reorganize our thoughts,
prioritize our goals,
and replenish our strength
before the start of a new week.

U - Uplifting others who are 
experiencing life's challenges 
is a great way to boost your spirit.

N - Nourishing our body, mind, and soul
provides us with the energy we need
to help ourselves and help others.
Self-Care is not "selfish."
Self-Care is "self-filled."

 D - Defining our goals for the week
begins with a short list.
Find one thing each day to focus on
and write it down.
A - Avoiding the things that prevent 
successful completion of our daily goals
is another real challenge.
Every time you do something
instead of your main goal, stop!
Remind yourself, 
"This is another avoidance issue for me.
Why am I doing this?"
Y - YOU can stay on track by:
1.  Keeping your goals short and simple.
2. Giving yourself permission to get things done,
even if it's not perfect. 
3. Stop doing activities that get in the way
of your success. 

Wishing all of you another week of adventures, 
solutions to your challenges, 
and answers to your prayers.


Kindest Wishes,

c.2017 World of Writer Mom