Bronco Spotlight: Brooke Aernouts

Brooke Aernouts

Master of Arts in practice of teaching, 2020

Preschool Director at the Refugee Education Center

I manage the day-to-day operations of a preschool and Early Head Start classroom. We partner with a local early childhood agency to recruit and enroll vulnerable children from the community, specifically children of refugee status or background, to provide a quality early childhood education experience. My job encompasses staff hiring, onboarding, and professional development, classroom management, and community engagement.

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the relationships I've gotten to develop - with my teachers, with the families, and especially with the children. There's nothing better than a big hug from a child who is happy to see you and knows you love and care about them. The most challenging part of my job is when I can't make everything happen for everyone just the way they need it. Sometimes, based on funding or enrollment or other factors, we have to make compromises that don't always meet every single need. Finding ways to be creative and flexible and make preschool work for everyone is something that excites me daily about my job.

What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?

Hands down, my experience working with Dr. Andrea Smith, both as an advisor and a professor, shaped my passion for this field and propelled me forward to keep doing better and keep learning and pursuing knowledge. She was endlessly encouraging, deeply engaged in our growth as her students, and knowledgeable about seemingly everything in this field. If she didn't know the answer, she would find it for us. Her follow-through is impeccable and I attribute the majority of my success at Western to her guidance.

What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?

Early Childhood Education is an ever evolving universe. There are always new things to learn, new people coming to the forefront, curricula being developed, legislation being passed. Spend time reading about the issues impacting early childhood. Talk to people who are working in the classroom and people who are writing the rules and standards. Read the work of others who have spent time in the field. There's always going to be something new to learn that you didn't know before.

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