Early childhood teacher Andrea Scott often recites a W.E.B. Du Bois quote that goes, “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
That’s why Scott does everything possible to let her passion for education shine through every day.
“I’ve learned you have to bring joy and excitement for people to learn anything,” said Scott, lead teacher at the William L. Clay Sr. Early Childhood Development/Parenting Center. “It’s about you. If you’re happy positive, those little kids are going to soak it all in.”
The subject Scott is passionate about teaching is Spanish, which arose after a study abroad trip to Costa Rica during her undergrad studies at Lindenwood University. She began her teaching career at the Spanish Language Immersion School in St. Louis city at 20 and remained there for seven years.
She has been teaching preschool at the William L. Clay Sr. Early Childhood Development/Parenting Center for one year. When Scott teaches at the center, there’s a lot of singing, playing and dancing involved. If the children want to pretend they are swimming at the beach, she’ll put on goggles and play “tiburón,” or shark, with them.
“If they are having fun, they remember the words better,” she said.
She also teaches adult courses at Harris-Stowe State University in both education and Spanish, and she tutors Chinese students in English online at night.
Scott has published three children’s books, which feature illustrations of African-American children speaking Spanish.
Her first book, “Smile Big, Dream Bigger,” came about after the Ferguson unrest started in August 2014. Although the events had an “extreme impact” on everyone at the language immersion school, Scott said, she found that it wasn’t being talked about much in the classroom.
“So many teachers were trying to go back to teaching the basics, but it was hard when you have a 10-year-old telling you, ‘Why am I learning this? I’m going to die when I get this age,’” Scott said. “That’s heartbreaking.”
She had a corazon a corazon – or heart-to-heart moment – with her students, where they talked about life, dreams and not giving up despite what’s going on in their surrounding environment.
“I would go home and cry and write all their thoughts and what I felt,” she said.
She wanted a book that would inspire them to dream, she said. Not only has the book received awards and national recognition, but the proceeds from the book also helped to fund her students’ trip to Costa Rica in May 2016.
She earned her master’s degree in education from Missouri Baptist University and is currently pursuing a doctorate. One of her role models is Michelle Obama, because she champions the importance of being educated and setting good standards for yourself. This is not always highlighted to young women, she said.
“I believe I’m going to be in school for the rest of my life,” Scott said. “Education saved in me in so many ways. That’s why I’m always in the classroom.”