PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Early childhood educators are some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic.
Many preschools and day care centers kept their doors open for essential workers when everything else shut down.
This week’s A+ teacher never hesitated to help her kids.
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Lindsay Belhumeur doing whatever it takes to make sure none of her Small Steps Discovery Center II VPK students fall behind.
“It’s important for us to be here for these kids and keep them on their routine and structure,” said Belhumeur, the school’s lead VPK Director.
While the world has been chaotic outside, Belhumeur has worked to maintain structure for her students and let their lights shine.
Small Steps Discovery Center II in Port Richey has been open every day during the pandemic.
“We are here for our families,” said discovery center owner Dina Minta. “We try to be a beacon of light for the community.”
Belhumeur and the center’s staff make sure to make their center a happy, safe place.
“I really do take my time to personally get to know each and every one of their personalities, and try to meet their needs as best as possible,” she said.
Connecting with her kids is her priority. So much so that Belhumeur stays in constant contact with their families.
And when the school’s VPK graduation ceremony was called off, she surprised everyone at their home – with gifts.
“We even put together a portfolio from the whole school year and put that in there, and gave them T-shirts that said ‘Straight out of VPK’ and cool sunglasses to wear,” Belhumeur said. “We just tried to make it really nice for them.”
As far as the pandemic, there has been sanitizing and frequent hand washing at the center. The Centers For Disease Control does not require masks for kids under 5 in this closed setting.
“They are still learning social, emotional bonds, and so I think it’s important for them to see my face and my emotions and not have a barrier so we can have a bond,” Belhumeur said.
And those emotions poured out when she was honored.
“I’m actually getting a little emotional now,” she said, when learning she was being honored as an A+ Teacher. “I’m just really proud of this school. I’m proud of these kids, and I’m proud of these staff.”