Lakisha Moore (BS ’12) knew early on that she was called to be of service to others. “As a young girl, I always imagined myself helping others. Growing up in Cabrini Green, I knew that there was more beyond my neighborhood and others saw the potential I had in me as well. I began to understand that I could be the vessel used to reach young children and their families through education. I could also stand as an example to those who currently live in impoverished neighborhoods and communities. ”
Ms. Moore’s career path began as an Administrative Assistant at DePaul Family and Community Services, a behavioral health clinic located on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus. “While working on campus I fostered many meaningful relationships. I began to be a part of the DePaul community and inquired about how I can do more. I knew I wanted to give back and help advance children and families from urban communities.” Having researched Early Childhood programs at various schools, she ultimately decided on DePaul College of Education. “I chose DePaul College of Education not just because I wanted to be a student within a community in which I served, but I knew that it would be an honor to be identified as an alum of DePaul University. The standard of excellence and integrity that is the essence of DePaul would be a part of my reputation and experience.” Upon graduation, Moore began teaching at the Achievement School District and quickly moved on to her current position as Site Director for the Centers for New Horizons.
Founded in 1971, Centers for New Horizons, Inc. is a community-based organization serving families in the Bronzeville and Altgeld Gardens neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. In addition to adult services and community building, Centers offers an Early Childhood program. So impressive is the work they do that former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, chose to visit one of the centers to speak about quality affordable child care during a 2015 campaign stop. With both an infant-toddler curriculum for ages 0-3 and a “kindergarten ready” preschool curriculum for children ages 3-5, Centers aims to give young children the early building blocks that lead to success in school and future endeavors.
“My current role as Site Director requires a level of expertise that allows me to assist with fostering classroom environments that are collaborative and effective. My time at DePaul has helped me accomplish just that. Everything that I was exposed to demonstrated quality teaching practices.” In one such example of those quality teaching practices, Ms. Moore recalled Instructional Assistant Professor, Alice Moss. “Ms. Moss was the epitome of an early childhood educator. She constantly demonstrated what quality care should look and feel like in a classroom environment.”
“The most important thing that I learned is that teacher-child interactions directly impacts a child's cognitive development. Teachers are the most important influence on a child’s education. We often hear stories about the teacher that shaped a kid’s life, whether in a positive way or a negative way. I have learned that my daily interaction with children, as both a teacher and an administrator, has a direct impact on the future of a child and their family. As a result of this, I have chosen to always ensure I am a positive influence on all those I meet.”
Now Ms. Moore passes that knowledge along to other young educators. When asked what advice she would offer young teachers, Moore replied “Strive to create an atmosphere of learning that contains real world connections, relevance and laughter. While every day may not be the “best” day, it is a day that you have to both teach and influence a child. Use your life’s experiences to build a commonality with your students and their families and never be afraid to admit mistakes. We are all learning and the best teachers are those who understand they can learn from each person they meet.”
Interested in pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education like Lakisha? DePaul’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program will prepare you to teach infants through third grade in a variety of urban and suburban education settings, including public and private early childhood programs. You will learn educational theories, conduct research projects, participate in field experiences, which require you to observe and participate in teaching activities at multiple elementary schools and childcare centers, and student teach.
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