Leading the way for early childhood development

Shireen Teacher

Shireen Issa, 26, from Salem, a village outside of Nablus, is a teacher in TYO's Core Child Program. Shireen began as a volunteer in 2010 and this is her first session as a teacher.

What has been your favorite memory at TYO?

The best thing at TYO is the kids themselves and the relationships I’ve had with them. I love the atmosphere in the classroom and watching my students learn. When I was a volunteer, I shared a favorite memory of one child, Ali.

What brought you to TYO and why are you a teacher here?

In 2010, I came to TYO, looking for a position at a formal school. When I entered the building, I met Suhad, the Psychosocial Program Manager, and she told me about TYO. It was then that became a volunteer in the Core Program. After volunteering, I was asked to become a full-time Core Program teacher. I am so happy to become a staff member because I recognize that even today, TYO is a place for me to improve myself help my community. It is the passion and strength I embody that make me a good teacher at TYO.

Why is early childhood education important and why is it called TYO’s Core Program?

Early childhood education is so important for 4-8 year old children because it’s the best age to work with a child and make changes in their behaviors. It’s our responsibility to observe these kids and give them the right space so they can grow up in a very good way. We call it the Core Child Program because it is the main aim of the organization.  We aim to create a healthier Nablusi community and we know that if we want to make any real reform, we have to start from the earliest ages. Here at TYO, we strongly believe that children – especially the 4-5 year olds – make up the core of our society.

In terms of early childhood education, what do you think children in Palestine need the most, and what would you like to see more of? 

The one thing they most need is a safe space to feel secure because the situation in Palestine is not good for children. As a result, we have to offer safe places for the Palestinian children to grow. I would love to see more education awareness in the community – especially among kids. Children here have no concept of how important education is for themselves and for their communities.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Early Childhood Development?

In my opinion, people should know that each five-year-old child is different and needs to be seen as an individual. These kids have their own world and it’s our society’s job to enter their worlds carefully, help shape their personalities and make them the leaders of tomorrow.

This interview was translated by TYO Core Program Teacher, Mohammad Abulkibash.