HDC Spotlight: Germaine Collins, BA

Germaine Collins pictured next to text that says "Spotlight" and the Human Development Center logo.

Germaine Collins is a teacher in the Human Development Center’s Early Learning Center (ELC). Located on the first floor of the Human Development Center (HDC) building, the ELC provides high-quality, inclusive early care and education for infants and toddlers. Our teachers are highly qualified professionals who are trained to implement a developmentally appropriate, evidence-based curriculum for infants and toddlers, including those with disabilities and special health care needs.

Q: Tell me about your role in the Early Learning Center (ELC).

I am a Lead Teacher for the ELC. I primarily teach social-emotional development skills like emotional sharing and how to follow instructions. These skills are crucial for young children to succeed in school and life. I also support the children’s learning and practice of literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills.

Q: How did you get started in Early Childhood teaching?

In October 1998, my daughter was enrolled in Head Start, and I just fell in love with the work. So I switched careers! I love the smiles on the children’s faces and the joy of teaching them. You know, I thought that I liked my job before, but I realized early childhood education was the job for me. I get to interact with the families and make a difference in children’s lives. It’s very rewarding and fulfilling work.

I’ve been an educator for 24-years now, and have been teaching for 5-years at HDC’s Early Learning Center.

Q: There’s a misconception that early learning centers for children aged 0-3 are just babysitting. Tell me more about how you educate these young minds.

Children learn through play. We break into learning centers in the classroom and play with all kinds of things that teach self-determination and skills to apply in real-life. For example, we have a book that has a specific song on each page and whatever song the child touches, we sing together – even the infants. This activity teaches independence, how to choose for themselves, and turn-taking with patience.

I strongly believe children as young as a year old should be making choices for themselves. Instead of me telling the children to go to certain centers, I ask them, “What center would you like to go to today?” I follow their lead. Wherever they go, I go and engage with them there.

Germaine Collins with four smiling toddlers around her pose for a photo.

“I think early education is very important. What they’re learning at such an early age is giving them the first steps to grow in life and prepare them for school.”

Q: What advice would you give others who are helping young children gain independence for themselves?

I would start slowly with daily routines. Then encourage the children to make choices for themselves and promote interaction with others. Parents should create a schedule and keep them on a routine because that’s how they learn.

Second, it’s very important that we follow social-emotional development and meet the children’s basic needs each day. It provides opportunities for learning and development.

Lastly, children thrive on positive and nurturing relationships with the teacher and with other adults in their lives. It’s an important feeling knowing you have someone you can trust.

Q: ELC is an inclusive early care and education center. Tell me what that’s like.

You know, we recently welcomed a child with a disability to the classroom, and we all work together because children learn from one another. It’s in a child’s nature to want to help a newcomer and greet them with a hug. Since the child joined our class, everyone is drawn to him and helps to make him feel easy.

Two toddlers sit at a small table set with dozens of plastic food and cooking items while one boy waves a teapot in the air.

Q: Tell me more about how you work with families.

It really takes a village to raise a child and help them reach their full potential. But first, supporting the child starts with supporting the whole family. If I notice a child’s behavior changes in the classroom, I’ll call a meeting with their family, caregivers, and when appropriate, other professionals to talk about what’s been happening. Behaviors will improve when we all get together and pull together as one.

Q: What does “Building Capacity. Inspiring Change.” mean to you?

It means being intentional with every child and instructor you come across. It teaches them to be confident and self-sustainable.

“My goal as a teacher is to positively impact every child giving them the building blocks to their growth and development as well as their education.”

Infant about 4 months old reads picutre book while sitting up against plush support.

About the Early Learning Center

The Early Learning Center at HDC is committed to providing families with the highest quality childcare. We provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can explore and learn. Our teachers are highly qualified professionals who are trained to implement a developmentally appropriate, evidence-based curriculum for infants and toddlers, including young children with disabilities and special health care needs. We welcome all children and families to our center.