Richards shares childcare knowledge with providers around the country

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Rosie Richards (pictured front, center) is the lead preschool teacher at Dr. Smith Childcare Center, and also teaches online courses for early educators through the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Her students, some of whom are pictured here, are Spanish-speaking childcare providers, living from New York to California, and Richards can work with them all from the comfort of her home in Marquette. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

By day, Rosaura “Rosie” Richards is the lead preschool teacher at Dr. Smith Childcare Center, in McGregor, helping local children grow and learn. 

By night, she shares that knowledge with others, teaching online courses for early educators through the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Her students are Spanish-speaking childcare providers, living from New York to California, and Richards can work with them all from the comfort of her home in Marquette.

“It’s been fun,” she shared, “and I’m still doing my job through the day, which I love.”

Richards, a native of Peru who came to the U.S. in her early 20s, said she’s always dreamt of being a teacher. But when she went back to school later in life, earning a degree in Spanish education from Luther College, she assumed high schoolers would be her students. Instead, after teaching private Spanish classes at the McGregor Public Library, she was sought out to work with the youngsters at Dr. Smith. 

It was six years ago that a former director for the Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers—impressed by Richards’ experience using the Spanish language in a variety of classroom settings—asked her to join the staff at UW-Platteville.

Despite the age gap from kids to adults, “it was an easy transition,” Richards said. “I love to teach any age.”

At first, Richards taught a single two-hour class one night each week. Now, she’s busy most week nights, instructing several different courses, including “Family Childcare Credential in Spanish,” “Infant-Toddler Credential in Spanish” and “Preschool Credential in Spanish.” She also developed and teaches “Introduction to Diversity in Childcare” and other professional development trainings focused on anti-bias and multicultural literacy for childcare providers.

These online courses consist of video sessions, which attendees can access with their computers or cellphones. They go over assignments, read articles and discuss childcare topics.

“We talk about things people don’t talk about, like diversity and inclusion,” she said.

For Richards, her favorite part is the opportunity to help others grow in the childcare field and in their careers, especially when they’re dealing with two different languages.

“Language can be a barrier,” she admitted.

She understands that technology can be, as well.

“When I went to Luther, I was 44. It was difficult, but not impossible, to get into the technology. Everything is so easy for [younger generations],” Richards said. For some of her students, “this is the first time they’re touching a computer other than Facebook. Now, they have to deal with submitting homework online.”

“But I went through that,” she added.

It also helps that she has continued to work in the childcare field she teaches others about.

“Education is always changing, and you’re dealing with a generation that’s trying to cope with many things. We play an important part in their lives,” Richards explained. “I am facing the same realities the students are facing, a similar situation during the day. They are workers like me. We understand each other and we’re connecting because of what we’re living.”

That connection allows Richards to work well with different personality types and different points of view.

“I understand where they’re coming from. I accept how they are, how they think, how they understand,” she said. “Then I’m able to support them and help them achieve something. They work very hard.”

Using her own life as an example, Richards encourages people to  never stop studying or learning.

“There are always new things to learn,” she expressed. “Always be open to the new things that are coming your way.”

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