Get to Know Bernie Loyola, Associate Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Early Childhood

With the closure of our schools in March due to COVID-19, so much has changed about the way we conduct learning in our pre-school, elementary, and middle school classrooms. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to our scholars and families. In this series, we’ll highlight our teachers and staff and the ways they’ve adapted to continue educating and supporting scholars through COVID-19.  
How long have you been with Christopher House?
11 years. I started as a pre-school teacher in a 2-year-old classroom.
Can you explain your role? What are your main responsibilities?
Right now, my responsibility is establishing best practices for all teachers, ensuring we are following our core values, and ensuring our kids are ready for kindergarten. I provide protocols on creating the e-learning videos. Each week, I provide an objective to focus on based on Teaching Strategies GOLD (for example, math). Within those objectives, I have teachers pick a dimension to focus on (for example, counting), so we are hitting a variety of dimensions in the videos.
I also make sure teachers are using household materials and thinking about the families we serve and things they’d already have in their houses. We are being really mindful of our families’ situations.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
Besides the learning objectives, I’m also thinking about our students’ mental health. That’s why I am creating the Zoom meetings. Even though we have these e-learning videos available, I think the connection between the kids and the teachers is more important for their wellbeing.
This role and going through COVID has made me more confident in making decisions and helped me become more strategic. It’s been a challenge, but I’m always thinking, how do I ensure that families are safe and help provide a little routine in their child’s life?
How are you and the early childhood team continuing to connect with students and families?
Each week, one of our teachers uploads the videos to Youtube and creates a playlist, which we share with families along with a weekly newsletter.
It’s important to connect because they’re all experiencing trauma. Before COVID, the kids were so excited to see their teachers every day. For kids, having a predictable day and understanding what transitions are like gives them confidence and security. When COVID happened, all of that was taken away, so that’s another trauma. They’re trying to understand what is going on and why this is happening. It’s important for them to connect with their teachers through the video learning so they get a sense of security again.
What are you most looking forward to after quarantine?
Hugging everyone! Connecting with the families. I look forward to seeing the kids smiling faces, that’s probably the biggest thing, and hearing their voices and watching them grow.
What advice do you give teachers for coping with COVID-19?
I’m transparent and let the teachers know we are all going through this together. It’s most important to focus on your mental health and make sure you are doing a lot of self-care. I let them know we’re all a family doing this together.