Given the recent articles about the Malibu schools and as a mother of two young children, I wanted to write about my latest visit to their school. I attended a play produced by Jennifer Douglas, the child care provider in the after-school care program at Pt. Dume Elementary School.
Much to my amazement I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the performances Ms. Douglas was able to achieve with fourteen of her kindergartners. Each child was actively engaged and sustained their concentration throughout the entire play – no small feat with such a large group of five-year-olds. They changed characters and costumes smoothly, sang songs and moved rhythmically through the scenes in the school yard. They also participated in making their own costumes.
I later found out that such a sucess was no accident. Ms. Douglas, with the help of her assistant, Mr. Louis Diaz, has been working with them the past month, preparing them for the performance. I always thought that the after-care program consisted mainly of indoor/outdoor playtime, snack time and homework supervision. Ms. Douglas, however, takes her job seriously and provides much more than standard “baby-sitting.”
She has a degree from Juilliard in NYC, one of our country’s premier creative arts schools. She also has certification from UCLA to work with preschool and school age children and has had fifteen years of career experience at Malibu’s Juan Cabrillo school and Caltech’s Children Center in Pasadena.
As a working professional I have seen that training and experience count. If we, as a society, are to value the education we give our children then we have to find a way to support a professional class to work with them. Even after-school care benefits from appropriate leadership. Suggested casual labor will not provide the same stimulation.
Candace L. Bowes