Introducing Tricia Kassotis: Early Childhood Educator, Mentor and Community Builder
Recently I had the honour of interviewing a well known educator and mentor from my local community of Ottawa Canada. Thank you Tricia for all you do for children, families and educators!
Grab your copy of her Free E-book here https://dl.bookfunnel.com/zomsi2p5c3
Here is her story….
Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background? Education, Work Experience
I'm an Ottawa girl who graduated Carleton University (English and Psychology) then Early Childhood Education at Algonquin College; the second cohort of what was then the new intensive ECE program. After that, I graduated from the ECE Resource Teachers program before it closed.
I started mentoring new Canadians wanting to work in the ECE field while teaching the course: ECE in the Canadian Context which was a kind of fast track program for new Canadians who already had an ECE from another country but needed to get their ECE in Ontario in order to work. It was an Ontario wide program within some colleges that offered ECE and had I think seven courses and a final placement. It was a partnership with OCISO (their career mentoring program), colleges and Immigration Canada at the time. Once the program closed, I just kept on career mentoring new Canadians who wanted to find work in the education field.
My first job in the field was at Ravenhill School Age Program with the Ottawa School Board as the assistant supervisor. Then I moved onto a supervisor position at Mountshannon School Age Program with the Catholic School Board. Eventually I opened my own program; The Social Learning Centre in Westboro so I could bring my boys with me to work. It was a licensed creative arts and homework program for children 4-12. I closed it in 2013 once my boys got too old for the program, and my enrolment dwindled with the dawn of full day kindergarten.
On the side, I worked at Algonquin College as a part time teacher and placement advisor in the continuing education program, which evolved into coordinating the program for many years. I'm still a part time teacher and placement advisor in the online program.
Tell us about your Facebook Group, Mindfulness Blog and other Social Media projects.
In 2013, as my centre was closing, I wanted to continue and expand my creative arts programming online. Social media was starting to rise and I wanted to have something (an ongoing resource) for my graduating students to have once they were working in the field; especially my adult education/second career students who struggled with the new 'social media' thing. Most of those students were mastering Facebook so I started the college ECE FB page; originally for these students to stay connected to the college (I'd get a lot of emailed questions so the page was an easier way to keep everyone in the loop with updates and programming ideas)
During this time I also started my own platform (blog, twitter, facebook, pinterest): 100 Days of Child Care Programming which had 100 new programming ideas, tips and tricks for ECE working in the field.
While I was doing my online research of resources available to ECEs in Ottawa; I noticed there was nothing out there at the time, so I started the Ottawa ECE Connection Group Facebook page to get ECEs connected online; hence the name. Back then I was able to welcome every new member with a special welcome post and was amazed when I hit 100 members. Now there are like 2k plus members!
Around 2018, while doing my Continued Professional Learning (CPL) goal planning, I noticed a recurring theme in everything I was creating for my platform posts; slow things down for children and go back to the basics. I rebranded everything to Mindfulness and Purpose in Early Childhood Education.
How long have you been doing this kind of work ? What motivated you to so this work?
My first job working with children was as a gymnastics coach when I was like twelve. I started competitive gymnastics with the Corona Gym Club at six, and I can't even remember why or how I started coaching. I think it was because the Saturday recreation program needed some gymnasts to demonstrate techniques. Anyway, I've worked with children ever since.
My mindfulness work rose from working with my best friend who is an artist and ran an expressive arts program for children in the next room when I had to Social Learning Centre.She ran art classes with my group of children and let me tell you, I saw children flourish when doing expressive arts with her. She now runs a child wellness centre which incorporates expressive arts, music and photography with the children. She really taught me a healthy respect for being mindful of children's creativity, and the importance of having a true and focused purpose when working with children.
How can early childhood professionals benefit from using your services?
I think ECEs can benefit from perusing my platform by getting connected to new ideas and programming and networking with other ECEs; especially in the FB Group. There are some really great ECEs in there who are more than willing to answer questions and help out other ECEs.
I think children benefit from a calm, slower paced environment that focuses on the basics. I find school-age programs are so fast paced and flurried, with children and groups and teachers having to scurry around in order to address an ever-growing list of needs. There is just no time to simply sit with the children, engage in expressive arts, and listen to the teacher read out loud; things we did daily in the Social Learning Centre.
How can we access your services and stay connected to the work you do?
I'm pretty easy to find in Ottawa. I do regular supply work to keep integrity in my classroom teaching; I find I feel a weird disconnect if I classroom teach when not working on the floor; reason why I started doing supply work after closing my program back in 2013. I also love seeing my old students when I'm working in the field. I never have to wonder whatever happened to ….
Online you can find me on:
Hyggechildcare blurb: https://mindfulece.blogspot.com/2018/02/hygge-for-child-care-environments.html
Or subscribe to my newsletter. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/7rlfkhy6o7
My Free E-book is available here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/zomsi2p5c3