This year seven employees will celebrate 40 years (or more!) with KinderCare Education. Today we conclude our series honoring each of these educators with a look at Loretta Repici, a teacher at the Sewell KinderCare Learning Center in Sewell, N.J. For the past 45 years she’s helped children learn and grow in both her current center and in nearby Cherry Hill.
What brought you to KinderCare?
I graduated with an associate degree in liberal arts. A KinderCare opened up down the street (the Cherry Hill center). It was very attractive, state of the art, and the curriculum inspired me to want to teach. I started as an assistant in the preschool room before going back to school. I was a student teacher in the kindergarten room while I went to school. When I graduated the kindergarten teacher decided not to return from maternity leave, so I became the kindergarten teacher. I held that role from 1979 until 2015.
I moved to the Sewell center in March. The Cherry Hill center is 45 minutes away from my home and at my age I couldn’t keep making that drive. I wanted to retire but I just couldn’t give it up! The Sewell center is closer to my home, which means a much shorter commute. Now I’m a floater teacher and a bus driver. I also cook when I need to. I wear many hats!
What age group do you prefer?
Kindergarten – no doubt! They’re so eager to learn and so delightful at that age. The curriculum is so exciting for them and I’m excited with them. They also have a good sense of humor. Everything’s funny to them.
Looking back over the past 45 years of your KinderCare career, what’s a favorite moment of yours?
I’ve always had a lot of fun. Every day is an adventure. You can’t get bored.
What keeps you coming back to work each day?
The atmosphere. The children and their families. My coworkers. I’ve been blessed with excellent directors since I started.
Have any of your former students returned to visit you? How does that make you feel?
Many of my former students return to visit me. They come back and they’re taller now!
There is a lady at the Cherry Hill center who was one of my kindergarten students. She worked with me as a counselor in training over the summer while she was in high school. It’s interesting to work with someone you taught. It took a while for her to realize we were at the same level – I wasn’t her teacher anymore. Now her son is at the center.
There’s a 40-year-old with three sons who stays in touch even though he now lives in Virginia.
What’s changed in the early childhood education field since you began your career here?
The curriculum and technology, also the importance of educating the whole child; socially, emotionally, and academically. KinderCare really jumps on the research and enhances the curriculum.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Children are like snowflakes. Their personalities and talents are all different: You have to find out what they are and nurture them. It all fits into educating them.
What advice would you give your younger self on your first day at KinderCare?
Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid of change. Don’t ever be afraid to tell a child, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.” Take advantage of the outdoors. Take advantage of the teachable moments – if you’re in the middle of a lesson and it starts snowing and your students are more interested in the snow, take what they’re interested in, use it, and run with it.