Frontline workers such as nurses and police officers keep all of us safe, but who’s watching their children? Centers like the Rose Hill Pre-K Center are open for children of essential workers, and our employee Yannick Daley, Head Teacher at Early LIFE Watson, has decided to volunteer.

“I knew that there was a need,” says Yannick. “I was available so I said I might as well help out.”

His supervisors have been able to accommodate his new schedule, which includes commuting by bus to volunteer at Rose Hill two afternoons a week. This is in addition to his working a full week at LSSNY. Yannick says he’s focused more on the daycare aspect rather than on teaching. It’s been difficult to implement regular lesson plans because children of all ages are at the center and the staff is constantly shifting and changing. The youngest child is two years old and the oldest is eight.

How are the children coping? Says Yannick, “The children who have been there longer are starting to cope better, but it’s been quite a transition for a lot of them. Some have special needs. Some were at one center, then that center closed, so this might be their third center in a couple of weeks.”

As more cases of the coronavirus have been reported, Yannick has felt more anxiety about his own health. But he says that he’s been wearing gloves and a mask and that the center is very cautious with safety measures. All staff members have their temperature taken before they enter the building.

As for his regular job as Head Teacher at our Early LIFE Watson center, Yannick and his colleagues are working remotely, giving digital lesson plans to families. Fortunately, some of the teachers were already using apps such as Class Dojo to communicate with families, so this has been a smoother transition than it otherwise might have been. Using Zoom or Microsoft Team, teachers hold conference meetings with the parents and teachers. A few weeks back, they arranged a virtual circle time to simulate what normally occurs each morning in the classroom — a chance to go around the circle and ask everyone how they’re doing. For parents who don’t have access to computers, LSSNY has helped connect them with the Department of Education website to borrow iPads.

Yannick writes lesson plans for the week and simplifies them, highlighting the most important items the three-year-olds should learn. “I’ll list the things they should be doing that day,” he says. “I try to make it flexible and not overwhelming. I try not to give too much.”

This is Yannick’s sixth year teaching at our Watson center. “I’ve always worked with kids,” he says. “Before that, I worked as a counselor at summer camps and with adults with disabilities. Other than it just being a fun job, I particularly like working with this age group because you’re helping build a foundation for their future. It’s easier the earlier you start. That’s why I choose pre-K.”