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Marie Sun: Early Childhood Grad Wants to Apply TC Expertise to a Preschool in Dominican Republic

Marie Sun, a newly minted graduate of TC, would like to open a pre-school in the Dominican Republic
Marie Sun, a newly minted graduate of TC, would like to open a pre-school in the Dominican Republic, where children could have the benefit of the kinds of approaches to learning that she acquired in the Early Childhood Education Program at TC. “It’s a very beautiful country, but it’s very impoverished,” she says.

Sun’s boyfriend’s family is Dominican. She has visited a school there which she thinks could benefit from her newly acquired expertise. “I think they could use teachers who are creative and can bring hands-on learning and inquiry-based approaches,” she says. “And if they had teachers who were bilingual, who could speak to them in both English and Spanish, that would be great.”

Sun’s mother is Puerto Rican, and her father is Chinese. She herself is bilingual  in Spanish and English and knows about schools that don’t work. In fact, it was her own disillusionment with her early education in Catholic and public schools on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that led her to TC.

“In Catholic School, you had to censor yourself,” she says. “You couldn’t really write everything you wanted to. If I’d had teachers who thought outside the box and were more creative, I might have really fallen in love with my early learning experiences. It’s so crucial to have these early creative and fun educational experiences so as to cultivate a long-lasting love for learning. “

After graduating from Fordham University, she began working in a tutoring program for children, ages three to five and discovered she loved it and decided to go to TC. “At TC they really advocate for their students, and they really care about providing quality education.”

TC gave her great support in thinking about how her own childhood education could have been improved, and it allowed her to compile a portfolio of other information about useful teaching approaches. “I was able to take these ideas and really ground them in research,” she says.

One area where Sun deepened her thinking was on the subject of language teaching. She herself had no bilingual teachers growing up. “When I first came to TC, I cared about making sure that everyone had equal access to education, but I think I got a firmer understanding of what every student needs and the importance of home language, the importance of having qualified teachers in the classroom, having professional development. I think TC just made me more well-rounded.”

Sun works as a lead Head Start teacher of a class that includes Dominican and Mexican children at Annunciation School, at 131st and Amsterdam. In the TC way, she says, “I try to make all of my activities for my students as hands-on as possible. I also give students ample opportunities to explore materials, and I try to involve their home languages — all things that I learned were good practice from my studies at TC.”

Over the long term, Sun says she still feels the call of writing, and there is still that school she wants to open in the Dominican Republic. She says there is nothing there that equals what she’d hope to bring.

“They have day care, but it’s not with credentialed teachers or anyone who understands development from the standpoint of a teacher,” she says. “It’s usually home-based. In terms of early learning in the Dominican Republic, from what I’ve heard from people who live out there, it’s not very strong.”

Published Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013