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Being a guiding light

Staff Spotlight: Sara Straw, Associate Teacher
Posted on Category General

Sara Straw has been a guiding light for children and their families for many years. Her work as an Associate Teacher with the agency began in 2013, and she has helped each day to provide an enriched classroom experience for those in her care. Sara’s work includes helping to implement and facilitate developmentally appropriate activities and experiences so that children learn and grow to their full potential.  

She believes in the agency’s commitment to high-quality childcare and is proud to be part of Head Start at Community Action Marin. She shares:  

“Head Start’s philosophy is to provide a professional service in the educational field. We receive children from birth to five years old, eight hours a day, providing structure that includes cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as breakfast, snack, and lunch—all prepared in our Central Kitchen with menus guided by a nutritionist.  

“With the care of the children, we at CAM give the opportunity that their parents can work, that each family progresses and breaks the cycle of poverty. There is also concrete help for entire families through the agency’s inter-generational Whole Family Approach, including food, finance, career training and more, from how to get a job to how to manage your financial budget. It inspires me!” 

What Makes Sara an Inspiration?  

Sara was born in El Salvador. Because things in her country were very insecure, she and her family came here 15 years ago. Sara’s mother was a teacher and inspired Sara’s dream of becoming an educator. Sara brings incredible dedication and experience to her job. She taught in El Salvador for 17 years before moving to the U.S. and once worked at a high-level of responsibility at a school that went from first grade to high school, with about 700 students and 30 teachers. 

When Sara traveled here, she married and unfortunately, she and her children suffered domestic violence. As Sara positively stated, “I see it from the point of view that I am not a victim, now I am a very proud survivor.”  

After her divorce, Sara and her children started from scratch. Because of the guidance Sara and her children received from the programs offered by Community Action Marin during this difficult time, she’s proud to say that her son, now age 24, is a veterinary student and her 13-year-old daughter has a very good academic record. Her daughter entered Head Start at the age of two years and eight months. 

Sara fulfills her teaching role with the ability to be empathetic with the families in the program and support them, guiding them towards resilience and helping them to break the cycle of poverty. Explains Sara, “I could say that my personal philosophy is to prepare myself more professionally in my career to support all children individually and also each family. To support the child, you need to understand the child. I am interested in specializing in children with disabilities to better support children and their parents.” 

Teaching is a Calling 

Teaching each day gives Sara energy. She recalls, “At my first job here, the 3rd graders helped choose the books for younger children so they could learn more about other cultures.” Today, Sara is proud of how CAM supports the whole child. She shares, “Children learn about food, nutrition, cooking, gardening, agriculture, nature, and related topics. They also learn about healthy eating by following the example of their classroom caregivers, who also teach by demonstrating healthy habits, manners, and good choices as part of the curriculum.” 

Her lessons include art and literature, and Sara uses puppets as much as possible. She explains, “Developing tactile senses at three years old is important, as the children have to see and touch in order to learn.” Sara’s daily routine entails working with 16 children in her classroom, usually with three other teachers dividing the students into smaller groups. The class is focused on children with special needs, and Sara supports a Leader Teacher who directs the classroom and has communication with the children’s families. “The main thing is to know and play with each child”, Sara says. 

Sara has frequently acted as Interim Lead Teacher, and on top of her eight-hour days in the classroom, she has been attending night school to earn the credits in Early Childhood Education needed to become a Leader Teacher. She’ll have completed all the units required for that position when she finishes the current semester at Cerro Coso College. 

Sara, we applaud and celebrate you and your many accomplishments! Thank you for all you do in support of children and families.