Stories » EMCSD Head Start Teacher Receives LACOE's Golden Apple

EMCSD Head Start Teacher Receives LACOE's Golden Apple

El Monte City School District (EMCSD) Early Head Start Teacher, Ms. Raquel Barber, was recognized at Los Angeles County Office of Education's 10th Annual Golden Apple Awards this month. Ms. Barber has dedicated over 20 years to educating El Monte’s youngest learners. 

When asked about the secret to keeping up with a classroom full of toddlers, in true educator fashion she credits the power of learning. “It’s the smile on their faces each time I introduce something new to them,” she explained. “As an educator, we have done the same activities and studies time after time, but we remember that these experiences are all new to [students]. I love hearing when our 3-year-olds transition into Head Start and teachers are impressed by how they can follow directions and have routines because of the Early Head Start experience they had.”

Ms Barber participated in the Career Development Initiative, a program designed to train new early education teachers. Their commitment to providing guidance and mentoring makes new teachers feel valued and supported. Golden Apple recipients were selected based on their ability to implement curriculum, provide exemplary adult-child interactions, demonstrate creativity in the classroom, and show continuously improving practices to be a model for others.

“We are extremely proud of the amazing work that Raquel, along with her EHS team, is doing to prepare our young learners by helping them stay engaged and by encouraging them to have a positive attitude about learning,” said EMCSD Director of Child Development Programs, Juan Castillo. “She has made a very positive impact on the children and families in the Jeff Seymour Family Center community.  She is a great communicator and role model and consistently strives to provide a safe, well-maintained, and healthy classroom environment.”

The praise for her work continued with her team. Child Development Supervisor, Ana Heredia, shared that Ms. Barber, "goes above and beyond ensuring all children in her Early Head Start classroom obtain maximum learning experiences while reaching their developmental milestones and acquiring school readiness skills."

EMCSD Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia celebrated Ms. Barber’s impact on shaping a community of learners. “Ms. Barber has proven to be an integral piece of our Early Head Start education program,” shared Dr. Garcia. “Dedicating 22 years to some of our youngest learners is no easy task, but her passion, expertise, and tireless efforts have created a lasting impact on the lives of countless students, shaping the future of our community. We are privileged to have Ms. Barber as a member of our team, and her Golden Apple recognition is a testament to her contributions to the field of education."

Ms. Barber’s classroom was selected to showcase El Monte’s new Early Head Start program in 2021 and her written child observations are used as models to train new teachers. She regularly engages parents in classroom volunteering to strengthen the home-school connection. Her best suggestion for colleagues and parents when working with young children is patience. “Patience is needed because the children will try to test you. Remembering that not all our children come from the same family dynamic. Providing the children and families a safe space to learn and explore is very important at this age. I always thank my families for allowing us to be part of their child's first school experience. If not for parents trusting us with their babies, I would not be here.”