Yvonne Smith / Pre-K Teacher
Yvonne Smith is an early childhood educator whose teaching is rooted in principles of progressive education and developmentally appropriate practice. In her classroom, she focuses on creating an environment for all her students that is rich in potential and grounded in the natural world. She believes that young children develop skills, knowledge and understandings about the world through active experiences, support for their social and emotional development and attention to their interests and strengths.
Yvonne began her career in 1974 in a public daycare center in the Bronx; ten years later she joined the faculty of Central Park East 1 Elementary School, an East Harlem public school that pioneered experiential learning through an integrated curriculum responsive to children’s diverse backgrounds, interests, and abilities. A native New Yorker and graduate of NYC public schools, Yvonne received her B.A. and MSEd. from The City College of New York and was an active member of The Workshop Center for Open Education, established by Lillian Weber at City College. She supports teacher education and development through frequent lecturing and welcoming of educators and policymakers to her Pre-K classroom. She has contributed to numerous publications, the most recent of which is Teaching Kindergarten: Learner-Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century, edited by Julie Diamond, Betsy Grob, and Fretta Reitzes.
Jessica Lawrence / 1st Grade Teacher
Jessica is a progressive early childhood educator committed to working in diverse school communities. She began her career in an after-school program in Washington Heights, NY, has taught in a play-based preschool and now co-teaches First Grade at Bronx Community Charter School. She shares: “Having had the wonderful experience of teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade, I have worked with children across multiple developmental stages. This has enabled me to see firsthand the importance of choice, play and access to rich and varied educational experiences in the development of all learners.”
Jessica received her B.A. in Childhood Education and Judaic Studies from The City College of New York and her MSEd. in Early Childhood Special Education from Hunter College. A native of rural Wisconsin, she now lives with her young family in Washington Heights.
Andrene Robinson / 1st Grade Teacher
After migrating with her mother to NYC as a 3-year old, Andrene learned at a very young age how to navigate the customs and traditions of two cultures: while at home, those of her home country, Jamaica, and in school, those of her adopted country, the United States. During a student teacher internship while a high school senior at The Institute for Collaborative Education (I.C.E.), she discovered her passion for teaching and never looked back. Following the birth of her daughter and a six-year tenure as a paraprofessional with the Department of Education, these experiences eventually led her to Bronx Community Charter School whose progressive pedagogical philosophy is closely aligned with her own. She previously taught Kindergarten there, and now co-teaches First Grade.
Andrene attended public schools, going on from I.C.E. to earn her B.A. from Hunter College, and a dual MSEd. degree in Special Education and General Education from Hunter College School of Education. She says: “I worked alongside dedicated professionals who mentored me and helped me get my grounding when it came to special education… Being an educator is such an amazing and humbling experience. I could not see myself doing anything else.”
Biographies of educators to be featured in each of the Kindergarten and Second Grade videos will be available simultaneously with the applicable video.