Rachel Jefferson, Pedagogical Coordinator

A little about my journey into the wonderful world of early childhood education…

As a child, my family moved a lot, both around the United States and Canada. I became quite adaptable, but I also realized at a young age that there were certain schools and teachers that helped me to thrive as a learner, as well as those that stifled my joy and creativity. Therefore, when I headed to college at Drake University, I decided to study education. I got my degree in Elementary Ed with a concentration in Early Childhood. I also met my sweetheart Josh in Iowa and during the summer of 2000, we took a leap and headed towards the adventures awaiting us in Eugene, Oregon! I found a job listing in the newspaper for a Lead Teacher at the Co-op Family Center and it mentioned the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. I had learned about this amazing philosophy in an Art for Children class in college and had been looking for a chance to experience its creative and respectful approach to teaching and learning.

I was hired as the School-age lead teacher at the Co-op in the fall of 2002 and after four years, I was granted my request to work with the younger children at our center. I enjoyed the next twelve years learning from the children and staff in the infant through toddler classrooms, before jumping at the chance for a new challenge, in the form of an interim administrative position as the Pedagogical Coordinator for the 2019-20 school year! This role satisfies not only my growing passion for advocating for the rights and potential of young children, but also for supporting teachers as they strive to bring an exciting and thoughtful emergent curriculum to the school experience.

The Co-op has helped to raise both of my children and has been our extended family for many years. I celebrate that each day we get to work alongside the children and their families, forming loving relationships and nurturing the children’s growing sense of themselves and the world. They do this in ways that are meaningful to them through collaborative research and discovery. I feel it is important, not only to support the children in finding their individual voices, but also to help make visible the power of being a part of a strong learning community. Learning with children involves infinite joy, challenge and possibility. I am forever motivated by the great impact and responsibility that the field of education has on the future and feel blessed to play a role in helping to raise citizens who will want to serve the world in diverse and compassionate ways.