I recently sat down with Heather Sason, an experienced CLASS observer, and one of the newest members of the products team at Teachstone.
Her CLASS journey is both inspiring and informative. Read about it below!
Heather’s mom has been an early childhood teacher for over 30 years and teaches 3-year olds. Growing up, Heather spent a lot of time in her mother’s classroom. As a teen, she worked in an EC program and earned her CDA through a high school program. Throughout her teens and during college breaks, she worked with children as a helper in preschool classrooms and as a camp counselor.
In college she studied family and child sciences at Florida State University. After she graduated, she worked in applied behavior analysis for a couple of years. She heard about an opportunity to do assessments through the Early Learning Coalition of Duval and jumped on the chance. Heather worked with Padma Rajan (a huge CLASS advocate!) for over three years as an observer. She is currently halfway through her masters degree in ECE. Clearly, she was born to work in early childhood education!
She trained to be a pre-K CLASS observer first and within 6 months she was also certified to conduct CLASS observations at the infant and toddler levels.
She did hundreds of live observations during her time working in Duval, observing almost every day. They had about 200 centers in the Guiding Stars program for QRIS, and outside of the QRIS, there were another 800 or so providers in DUVAL.
Heather’s initial impression of CLASS? She was so happy about it, but kind of sad at the same time, explaining: “It hit me: I could have done so much more during my time working with children. CLASS felt like the missing link.”
She considers it the best measure for any classroom and is happy to report that 60% of the star rating in Duval’s QRIS is based on CLASS scores.
According to Heather, “Positive Climate is the basis for everything. If it’s missing, children can’t reach their full potential.” She explains that Teacher Sensitivity is a close second since it’s about being sensitive to children’s needs, acknowledging that children have real emotions, and being sure children are comfortable with teachers.
“You can’t get anywhere with Instructional Support if you don’t have good relationships and are not sensitive to children’s needs,” she says.
Heather decided to make the big move from Florida to Virginia to work for Teachstone because the CLASS tool aligns with her ultimate end goal—making the biggest impact on children’s lives and outcomes. Before, she could only reach one county. Now she is able to reach many children and teachers at a higher level. At Teachstone, she is responsible for reviewing video content and is working toward becoming a master coder. She really enjoys seeing classrooms from all over the country and the world.
Heather Sason's passion and career goal is to improve the lives of as many children as possible. As the Video Content Coordinator at Teachstone, she focuses on supporting the acquisition of classroom video, reviewing footage, and assisting with other aspects of video content development and technical writing. Throughout her career, she has worked in the preschool setting, as a behavioral therapist for special needs children, and as an observer for a Quality Rating and Improvement System using the CLASS tools. She is currently working on her master’s degree in early childhood education and she holds a bachelor’s degree in family and child sciences from the Florida State University. Outside the office, you can find Heather spending time with friends and family, traveling to as many places as possible, or snuggling with her cat, Nala
If you’ve been following the news lately, a lot is going on in North Carolina for young children and families! Leaders across the state—from businesses to state government to county municipalities—are leveraging partnerships that use research-based assessment and professional development models (like CLASS) to guarantee more of the state’s youngest residents have access to the high quality care they need and deserve.
Recently, I wrote about research showing us just how few children experience even “good enough” teaching from kindergarten to third grade. Only 4% of children in rural areas of North Carolina and Pennsylvania had access to good enough teaching during these critical early years and over 50% only experienced good enough teaching for 1 year or less.
Teachstone has been working hard for the past few months to provide you with case studies about various organizations who have transformed their classrooms through the use of the CLASS tool. We hope they help readers like you make informed decisions about some of the products we offer and introduce you to different ways you can impact teacher-student interactions.