Finding Potential in Every Child
Lori Roberts, or “Mrs. Lo” as most know her, has been working with kids in some capacity since 1986. But her last six years as a two-year-old teacher at Early Childhood has brought about a purpose for which she never knew she was searching.
Undiagnosed with ADHD and a processing disorder for the first 30 years of her life, Lo struggled to find where she “fit,” and she struggled with pieces of her life that should have come easily. As Lo eventually found her way to ACCESS first as a teacher’s assistant and then a teacher, she felt that her personal experience with learning disabilities prepared her to understand how to teach a classroom of children with varying abilities. “I am grateful for my ADHD and my processing challenges for they have formed in me an understanding of how important it is to look at each child that enters my room as an astounding, brilliant, unique person that has been put on this earth for a beautiful and important purpose,” explains Lo. “I see my job as one that offers a wonderful opportunity to nurture their spirits with love, boundaries, play, and challenges that stretch them, where they can grow in confidence and find joy in all that they are!”
The ACCESS Early Childhood curriculum allows for that flexibility to adapt to every child in their own journey. “I always believed in the value of play, literature, and out-of-the-box approaches to teaching, but after working at ACCESS, I understand in a much deeper and fuller way how play in a young mind invites a joy and connection to the real world,” says Lo. “ACCESS’s unique curriculum was thoughtfully written and created by its founders. Their expertise in their fields, their knowledge of children’s development, and their insight into the different ways a child’s mind can take in information, process it, and become something meaningful and educational has led to an integrative curriculum that first begins with a story – literature – that engages a child’s imagination.” Those pieces of children’s literature are then expanded upon using art, language, and multi-sensory concepts to break down each story and expand the concepts that being taught, all the while using picture symbols for language support. “We are able to adapt every area to bring each individual child along in the way that he or she can at that time,” explains Lo. “This breaking down and expanding of the intricate parts of the story really can be magical!”
Lo works with two-year-olds, and she claims she wouldn’t have it any other way. “The time between 24 and 36+ months is one of the most wondrous and expansive times of growth and change in a child’s life! They are literally living sponges, ready to soak up all the world has to give and teach,” Lo expands. “They are master explorers, adventurers, and feelers! Nothing is small potatoes to these little humans.”
While the age itself can be trying, Lo embraces the flexibility of the ACCESS curriculum to provide a full educational experience for every child, including those with and without disabilities or delays. “Each and every child that enters our classroom comes with their own set of strengths and challenges, regardless of their being typical or having needs or delays that require therapy and special understanding of their specific diagnoses or disability,” shares Lo. “The parents of these children in my care are counting on me to teach, love, nurture, and help their child along on their journey of growth and to meet the individual goals set before them.”
But the individual children are not just learning developmental skills in Lo’s room. They are discovering so much more. “It is a marvelous experience to watch these children care for and enjoy helping one another, no matter their differences,” Lo boasts with pride. “In a world that is often fearful of differences and will even try to eradicate certain disabilities because of its lack of understanding and knowledge, our students are not only not seeing the differences but enjoying their similarities. Every child has the privilege and opportunity of knowing firsthand the depth of friendship formed over common ground where others might only see all that is different.”
The ACCESS Early Childhood program is designed to integrate education, therapy, and a unique, languagerich curriculum to create an immersive, early intervention environment. However, the children are not the only ones impacted by its magic. Even teachers like Lo find that they unlock their own potential in its encouraging atmosphere. “ACCESS is the coming together of the many pieces of my 35+ years of experience with children like a beautiful puzzle God had been designing and planning all along,” reflected Lo. “My husband said I was like a painter without the paints or a canvas before I started working at ACCESS.” We are grateful for the many artists like Lo who are dedicated to serving the ACCESS mission through the early childhood program. Without their passion and commitment, we would not be able to unlock the potential with each one of our students.