By Lisa Hunter / Staff Writer
Debra Watts, a preschool teacher at the Child Development Center and Learning Lab at the PCC, was recognized as one of the Los Angeles Universal Quality Preschool Teachers of the Year at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration on Tuesday, May 27.
The group is a non-profit organization that provides access to quality preschool programs for children in the Los Angeles area.
A press release from Celia Ayala, the chief executive officer of the group, said, “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you teachers like Debra Watts, who has dedicated her life to making sure she brings excellence to everything she touches in the early care and education world.”
Watts was awarded a $2,000 cash prize through the Elizabeth Lowe/Bob Weekley Award for Excellence in Preschool Teaching, plus $500 in classroom supplies.
Watts has been a preschool teacher for 25 years and is a mentor teacher with the California Early Childhood Mentor Program.
“It’s no secret. It’s experience that’s what it is,” Watts said. It takes time to learn the ins and outs of the trade, she said, and to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
She is known for going the extra mile studying and researching for great activities to provide her students. Her curriculum involves knowing each one of her student’s interests and gearing her curriculum to fit their needs.
“I have to know 24 kids. I have to know each one and learn that what will work for one will not work for the other because we are all different.”
Regrouping is a key element to Watt’s successful teaching technique. Her daily routine involves reflection, learning from successes and failures and maintaining a focus on ways to improve.
Her demonstration of leadership, creativity, dedication and passion for teaching is why she was chosen as one of Los Angeles County’s finest. She has an enthusiastic concern for her students and making her classroom work.”
I have a responsibility to help them grow,” Watts said.
She earned an associate of arts degree in early childhood education from LBCC and a bachelor’s of arts degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College. She encouraged LBCC students to go as far as they can with their education and said they should continue developing themselves through workshops, conferences and seminars.
Watts credited her co-workers when she spoke about her award. “It’s not just me here, it’s a team. … The team is the one who made it happen cause we work together very well. Everybody who works here, their heart is here and they are dedicated to it,” she said.
Angelica Hernandez, a child and development major, said, “She tries very hard to get everyone to work together as a team to accomplish our goal, which is for the children to thrive in this environment.”