Chris Raposa, our head teacher, received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood from UMass-Amherst and her Master’s degree in Recreational Therapy from Springfield College. She has been at Tots’ since 1998, with her own children having attended the school. In the past 17 years, she has skillfully and lovingly guided the children at Tots’ from that difficult transition from home to classroom. She is the exemplar of patience and nurturance to the children at Tots’. Her humor makes each day bright and full of possibilities. Of note is her encouragement of students’ appreciation of visual aesthetics through daily creative expression. She thoughtfully leads students through art projects that involve paint, clay, and the use of unconventional tools. She fully understands the importance of creating visual art for the development of motor skills, language, decision-making, and academic competence and has consistently incorporated it into the curriculum.
Patrice Franco received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State College. She, too, has been at Tots’ since 1998 and her children attended Tots’ as well. In the 17 years that Patrice has been teaching at Tots’, she has been on the front lines, gracefully managing the daily ebb and flow of the classroom. She is engaged and engaging, quickly ascertaining the unique needs of each child and working in concert with their parents to create an optimal learning environment. Patrice has a strong commitment to play-based learning. She understands the important role of spontaneous, self-directed play on children’s intellectual, social, and emotional development. This is evident in her daily interactions with the children, when she can often be found on the floor of the classroom being led by students in an activity or when she pauses mid-sentence to give voice to a child’s opinions. She not only has a profound respect for each child at Tots’, but she delights in them and approaches each day with humor and playfulness.