Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center – Ericka Van Deventer
Ericka Van Deventer has been named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for the Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center.
Van Deventer said, “I have always loved school and kids from a young age, and working with children is all I have ever known. As a child, I remember how excited I would get to go shopping for school supplies, checking off the list as we went, and then getting home and organizing them all in my new backpack. In high school, I was a part of FEA (Future Educators of America) and worked part-time at a daycare. I loved seeing the world through young children’s eyes, and their excitement and wonder with new experiences. I continued working in childcare after high school, until an opportunity to work for Union Public Schools as a teacher assistant arrived. Once I began working alongside the incredibly talented certified teachers at Union and spending my days full time in the classroom, I knew I had found my place and my calling. With the encouragement from fellow teachers, I enrolled in college to begin my journey to make teaching my career.”
The biggest difference this year in teaching is the relationships with families, she said.
“I am used to parents being in my classroom all the time, walking their children into the building, staying and playing for a few minutes, and then seeing them again at the end of the day when they returned to pick up their child. This made building relationships and the continuity of the excitement of what is happening in the classroom carrying over to home very easy. This year with families no longer coming into the building, I have made it my goal to make sure those strong relationships are still there. I have found ways to virtually check in with each family personally throughout each week, sending pictures, positive praise reports, and stories of each of their children, as well as daily “Today We’s” with photos, student quotes, their work, and explanation of what happened in our class that day. Building that home/school connection is so important to me, especially being their child’s first school experience at Union, because it builds trust with us as educators, and gets families excited and on board with their child’s educational journey from day one.”
Van Deventer began her journey at Union in 2008 as a teacher assistant at Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center.
“I remember interviewing in the building while it was still under construction. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work for an actual school, and didn’t realize how much that decision would truly change my life. I went to college part time from 2010-2017, working during the day in a 3-year old classroom at the ECEC and spending most evenings in a college classroom,” she said. “I loved bringing what I was learning about early childhood education into the classroom each day. I did almost all my internships at Union, as well as my student teaching. I knew when I graduated where I wanted to work. I became a certified teacher in 2017 after graduating college.”
Van Deventer graduated from Collinsville Public Schools in 2003. She received her Child Development Associate from Tulsa Technology Center in 2005, her Certificate of Mastery in Child Development in 2010 from Tulsa Community College; her associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2015 from Tulsa Community College; and her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2017 from The University of Oklahoma.
She plans to pursue her master’s degree in within the next few years in educational leadership and administration.