Maryella Bifano has been a Prekindergarten educator at the KinderCare® Learning Center in Woodridge, Illinois, for five years. While she has 40 years of experience in early childhood education, she doesn’t consider her on-the-job training complete. “I’m always looking for what I’m learning, not just what I’m teaching the children and what will they learn, I learn something new every day, too,” she said. She was honored with an Early Childhood Educator Award from Knowledge Universe® in October.
Her ability to interact with children is one of her greatest strengths. A classroom observer noted her natural and powerful interactions, as she turned each moment into a learning opportunity, involving other children and allowing children to engage in meaningful discussions with each other. District Manager Rachel Weber spoke to this teacher’s unique dedication and engagement. “Everything she does is about them,” she said. “As she develops her day, if they’re headed one direction, then she easily will adjust to whatever it is that their interests are.”
Her classroom is a special place for children, and that is reflected in their level of learning and play. “She enriches each learning area with items made by the students and other items that she adds,” Rachel said. “She leads with her heart and the children she teaches are better prepared for Kindergarten and life because of Miss Maryella.”
“I always worry about the children,” Maryella explained. “Am I doing right by them? Am I giving them their good first start, because they have so much education ahead of them.”
Maryella is a leader in her center, helping coach new and experienced teachers alike. “There are not a lot of people like her,” said Jamie Hiner, Center Director, echoing the sentiments of many of Maryella’s colleagues. “She just is so humble.”
After Maryella had been honored with her award, a boy came up to throw his arms around her. “I’m proud of you!” he exclaimed and Miss Maryella, whose first concern is always the children, responded without missing a beat, “I’m proud of you!”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Getty Images for Knowledge Universe.
2013 Early Childhood Educator Award Winner: