Belmont Cragin Early Childhood Center is developing a reputation for outstanding teachers, and the latest to join their ranks is Lourdes Molina, the third Belmont Cragin teacher to be honored with a Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award. She joins her colleagues Flor Villanueva-Winter, who won in 1999, and Hertha Ramirez, who won in 2006. In the award’s 14-year history, Belmont Cragin is the first school to have three award winners.
Molina had previously won a grant to study at the Reggio Emilia Center in Italy, and immerse herself in the center’s philosophy of letting children learn as a natural course of their day. The students are free to visit various learning stations throughout the classroom and work as they please. As they ask questions, Molina encourages them to find the answers, making the curriculum a process of discovery.
Molina also makes sure that parents are a vital part of the learning process – they are not only allowed but encouraged to visit whenever they like and join their children in drawing pictures or singing songs.
Villanueva-Winter says Molina leads through action rather than words. “She’s a leader without thinking that she is,” she said.
To help develop her students’ sense of themselves, Molina has hung mirrors throughout her classroom.
“I serve these children,” she said. “Seeing their faces keeps me going.”
Meet our other Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award winners:
Learn more about the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.
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