Meet the Teacher: Lead Teacher Jackie Rugolo

September 23, 2015
  • Welcome to the first of our Meet the Teacher series. Today we will be talking with Jackie Rugolo. Jackie joined us in 2009 as a lead teacher. With a B.A. in Marketing from Hofrstra University, Jackie put many years into volunteer service. She earned her New Jersey Teacher Certification in Elementary Education from the College of St. Elizabeth. She is dedicated to providing a positive environment that equips children in her classroom with the skills and opportunities to reach their full potential.

    We asked Jackie to answer some questions for us and here is what she had to say:

  • Q. What is your teaching philosophy?

    My philosophy is that every child is a gift from God with their own individual talents, strengths and weaknesses. Children should be offered a safe, enriching environment to explore and discover; to develop their talents. As a teacher, I try to observe each child to learn about their abilities, and then create individual lessons to help each child reach their fullest potential. I strive to create a warm, loving, stimulating environment for them to blossom. I want learning to be fun! I want them to enjoy each moment of their preschool years.

    Q. What drew you to early childhood education?

    I LOVE how young children’s minds work. They are like sponges and absorb everything around them. I love seeing their faces light up with discovery; introducing them to new concepts. I am a mother, and was blessed with two daughters but would have loved to have had many more. I remember how hard it was to leave my daughters at preschool, and I strive to give each student a ‘mommy-like’ teacher who would treat them as I’d want my own treated. Early childhood offers me the opportunity to be one of the first teachers after a parent. It is a true gift to be able to teach young children.

    Q. What does an average day look like for the children in your class?

    When the students arrive, they hang their coat/backpack up at their cubby, find their name tag and put it into our classroom basket, then they can play with playdoh and/or puzzles. This is our activity as the students arrive, as not all classmates arrive at the same time. Playdoh helps with their fine motor skills and puzzles awaken their cognitive as well as fine motor skills. Around 9:20 we sing the clean up song, clean up and then head over to the carpet for circle time. At circle time, we pray, go over the job chart, sing about the weather and calendar, and participate in a circle time activity, which usually involves jumping and singing. At around 9:40 we head to the bathroom, everyone is encouraged to ‘give it a try’, we all wash our hands, and head back to the classroom for our snack. After we pray, the students are given a snack and drink. After eating, we head outside to the playground, to get the large muscles exercised. If it is raining or snowing, we head to the gym for free play and organized games. By 10:30, we head back into the school, where the class is divided into 2 groups. Half of the students will be in the pretend play, dress-up, large block, kitchen room, where they play and participate in an art project. The other half will stay in the room with the smaller manipulatives and dollhouses, cars, Legos, and participate in a teacher directed project that focuses on a particular aspect of the curriculum. After 40 minutes, the students clean up and switch sides. After 40 more minutes, the students come back to the main classroom, where they retrieve their backpacks and sit for a story, goodbye song and pickup.

    Q. How do you communicate the progress of children to parents?

    We have a parent teacher conference in the fall and spring. Fall is to see how the parents feel their child is adjusting, as well as for me to communicate any concerns or questions I may have. These are the formal meetings, but I give out my email address and ask parents to contact me as often as possible with questions, concerns or comments. I also have called parents, sent home notes and talked to them at pickup. In addition, I send out a monthly newsletter giving an overview of what we’ve been working on, as well as what to expect. In this newsletter, I have a space devoted to the individual child, where I write a comment for the parent about something specific about their child.

    Q. What is your favorite activity to do with the children in your class?

    Get messy and experience nature! We go to a pumpkin patch and I cut my pumpkin with the students and have each child feel the seeds and help pull them out. We also plant in the spring, and I have the students use their hands to dig the dirt and plant their seeds. Another activity that is a favorite is learning about metamorphosis. We make a caterpillar that enters a chrysalis and hangs around the classroom, and one day we open the chrysalis and a butterfly is inside! So, basically anything that has to do with outdoors, nature and getting a little messy.

    Q. How do you help children develop an interest in words and reading?

    We have books available for students at all times. During circle time, snack time, and throughout the day, I point out words and have the students “read” with me. In addition, we read some big books repeatedly, and the students end up knowing the words and I point to them as we read together. We have many of the items in the classroom labeled with their names (clock, door) so the words are around at all times. In addition, I read at least one story, and often times more, per day. One of our year-long projects is to become an author of our own books. The students create the cover page, and then learn a number, shape and color per month which we create into a page. (page one is a red #1 with a red circle. The page has the words “one red circle” on it.) At the end of the year, the students get to read their books and take them home.

    Q. What activities do you do in your class to help develop independence?

    Students, from day one, are taught and expected to put their coats and backpacks onto the hooks at their cubbies, find their name tag and put them into the classroom basket. We do gentle reminders and I say silly things that help them to remember. We teach the students how to put their coats on and how to zipper. We show them how, and then always ask them to give it a try on their own before they ask for help. We have jobs that rotate each week, so we have certain students in charge of certain classroom tasks. I love to see the pride in their faces when it is their turn to do their job. We teach them to push their chairs in, throw out their own trash, and clean up their toys. We encourage them to accomplish tasks through praise, gentle reminders, songs and games. It is amazing when I say, “I spy with my little eye ZZZ cleaning up very nicely,” how quickly each child starts cleaning up! I have also used stickers and hand stamps to reward students for accomplishing tasks.

    Thank You Jackie!


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Little Footprints
Little Footprints Learning Center is a ministry of Millington Baptist Church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. We offer a safe, nurturing preschool for 2 ½ to 5 year old children. We strive to provide a quality education in a loving Christian environment and invite you to browse our website to learn more about our program. If you have any questions or wish to have a tour of our facility, feel free to contact us.