I am Alexandra Dutton, the program director for Old Firehouse School in Lafayette. I have been teaching in preschools for the since 1998, with children between the ages of 5 months old to 5 years old. I have been so lucky to have found a profession early on that I love and know I will spend the rest of my life doing.
I was first introduced to early childhood education when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. (GO BEARS!) When I started school there, I had all intentions in becoming a child psychologist, but my mind was quickly changed when I began working in an infant center on campus. Immediately, I took to the job and the responsibility of being a caregiver for a child and for a family. I later went on graduate school at San Francisco State, which has an outstanding Masters Program in Early Childhood Education. It promotes the profession of early childhood through research and constant education, something that I believe strongly in. I finished my degree in 2007, with a thesis focusing on emotional development in children.
I was excited when I finally came to a time in my life, in early 2007, where Old Firehouse School was hiring and I was available to work here! I had heard about OFS when I was at Cal, and it got high praise from some of my past professors. I love the the Reggio Emilia approach and was lucky enough to visit Reggio Emilia with Dorothy in 2008. I taught for 2 years at OFS and then became director in winter of 2008.
Preschool is a place where I feel that as a teacher, we have the most power to influence how they develop, both socially and cognitively, and we introduce them to the love of learning. Old Firehouse School is a unique environment that brings together a lot of what I love about my field. Children are doing so much learning here, whether they are recreating the Exxon Valdez oil spill or writing their own plays. The idea that children are very capable beings is felt, through the respect that teachers have for children and through the many activities that the children engage in at school. The amount of documentation done is a wonderful example of the constant research and learning that the teachers and children engage in together. I know that being a part of this community allows me to keep growing, as a teacher and as a person.
Because of OFS, I have been delighted to speak at conferences, local colleges and universities. I recently have been teaching workshops on early math development, discipline strategies, and brain development.
I now have two children of my own who are benefitting immensely from being part of the OFS community. I am grateful to have found a second home at Old Firehouse School!