Child care and early years professionals are a precious commodity and essential part of happy, healthy, and successful communities. Now, more than ever, we know how important it is to have caring adults supporting young children and families.
We are so proud to be a part of this vibrant community and this Professional Spotlight Series is intended to recognize the many outstanding efforts, innovations, and contributions of our treasured colleagues across the sector.
This month, we are delighted to introduce you to Lorena Arauz, a Parent Support Coach at Childreach. Lorena is well-known amongst her colleagues (who the Strive team is lucky to count themselves among) and the families she supports, for her passion, friendly and encouraging attitude, and creativity.
Keep reading to learn more about Lorena!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Lorena Arauz. I have an Early Childhood Education diploma from Fanshawe College. During my last placement – a kindergarten classroom, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in teaching. Soon after I graduated from Fanshawe, I started my undergraduate program at King’s University College, and then I attended UWO for the Bachelor of Education. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. I have worked at Childreach for almost four years as a Parent Support Coach, facilitating community programs, co-facilitating Wild Child playgroups, various camps, and infant massage classes. I am so grateful for the opportunity to hone my skills and grow in my profession as an Educator at Childreach.
Describe the role of a Parent Support Coach.
A Parent Support Coach is committed to supporting and strengthening families through learning opportunities, such as parent workshops and quality EarlyON programs for children and caregivers. In addition, a Parent Support Coach develops strong connections with the families that participate in programs. They are knowledgeable about services and agencies in the community, and they make sure that families are informed about the programs, services and resources available to them.
What is the best part of your role?
The best part of my role is building rapport and fostering positive relationships and connections with the families that I work with. I also love that I have the freedom to be creative when designing and planning programs for Childreach.
What is something you have learned recently that you’re excited about?
I’ve been learning how to play the ukulele! I always wanted to be musical, and I’ve even dabbled with playing instruments in the past (piano, violin, recorder) but without ever mastering any of them. Just a little over a year ago, I bought myself a ukulele, and I haven’t put it down since! The ukulele is such a happy-sounding instrument, and it was easy and fun to learn how to play!
I have had the privilege of working with Lorena for the past five years. To witness Lorena interacting with families and facilitating their learning experience with unexpected sensory play materials, and engaging songs and stories is mesmerizing. It’s no wonder that families follow her all around the city to soak up that magic! Lorena is extremely child-focused with a deep understanding of children’s development and their needs. Her interactions with the children in her programs whether they are infants, toddlers or school-aged, demonstrate her passion and sincerity for her work. Her creativity and innovative approach to program delivery have sparked programs such as Pint-Sized Picassos, WILD Babies, Infant & Toddler Sensory Labs, Mobile Art Studio, Story time STEAM, and Virtual Kitchen Pantry Science! All of these programs are well-thought out, age-appropriate and provide rich sensory play experiences for families and nurture curiosity in children.
Over the pandemic, I have been so impressed by Lorena’s flexibility to adapt and fine-tune her virtual and in-person programs on an on-going basis whether it be changing the time of day to accommodate naps, or adding kits to ensure everyone had the right supplies, or emailing friendly prompts to remind families of upcoming programs. If something is not working, she will fix it. Lorena was the first on our team to develop and share best practices for virtual programs using Zoom by researching and collecting what worked and fixing what didn’t. It’s self-initiated projects like this that demonstrate how important inclusion and accessibility are to Lorena.
Lorena is constantly pursuing quality, continuous professional learning to enhance her practice through many avenues including on-going university studies in her free time – she’s currently adding library sciences to her toolbox. To say we’re awed by Lorena is an understatement.
Everyone who works with Lorena respects and appreciates her seriousness, dedication and professionalism in providing inspiring early learning environments with unexpected materials – sometimes it’s as simple and beautiful as a gaggle of babies each sitting on their own shady patch of green grass splashing their chubby little hands in a tray of cool water with a fresh sprig of spearmint with soothing, gentle piano playing in the background. Lorena extends these learning experiences through documentation (videos, pictures, and text) and sharing with families on our Facebook page. Her engaging words and images empower parents in providing these DIY play experiences at home in addition to scrambling to register for Lorena’s next playgroup!
– Nadine Reeves, Childreach Program & Development Manager
What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education?
Early Childhood Education is a wonderful opportunity for many different career paths. It is also a great responsibility as you will facilitate children’s learning experiences. So be an observer first. Observation is your best tool as an educator. Through observation, you can learn what the children are learning and what they are interested in. This will help you when planning your provocations, setting up the learning environment, and fostering strong connections.
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
Professional learning has helped me become a better educator. It has helped me gain a deeper understanding of child development. I have attended a few of the Community of Practice opportunities for Infant Educators. It was an excellent way to share knowledge, ideas, and observations with other infant educators.
Lorena brings such joy and enthusiasm to her programs. Families will often ask us, “Is it a Lorena day?”! Lorena is a fantastic asset as a community partner because of her commitment to families, her versatility and her impeccable communication and collaboration. She always comes prepared with exciting and engaging activities and materials. Lorena plans and programs for all ages and stages, and strives to make connections with each and every family.
– Stephanie Hamel, Program Supervisor, Family Centre Fox Hollow
Do you have a favourite quote?
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tell us some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I often explore hiking trails with my dog Toby, but sometimes I like to stay home and enjoy a good movie too.
If you were an ice cream flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
I would be mint chocolate chip: a refreshing spearmint flavour – because I am willing to try new things and explore new ideas.
Thank you, Lorena, for everything you do for children, families, and other professionals in this community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
Join us in celebrating Lorena by dropping her a comment below!
Do you know an outstanding early years professional that deserves to be recognized?
- takes an active leadership role within their community;
- has a demonstrated ability to build strong relationships;
- shows a loving and respectful commitment to children, families, and the ECEC profession;
- exudes professionalism and maintains enthusiasm for their continued commitment to ongoing professional learning.
Then nominate them to be our next Professional Spotlight!
Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org