Early Childhood Education Instructor Brings Expansive Background and Center Director Experience to the Classroom
When Tosca Grimm, Rasmussen College School of Education faculty member, was in her undergrad years, she was studying music and arts and didn’t have solid plans for what she wanted to do once she earned her degree. She became a mom shortly after she graduated, leading her to search for a job in which she could bring her son with her to work. It was in 1994 when she walked into a childcare center down the street from her home, and it would become her entry point into the early childhood education (ECE) field. Grimm began teaching toddlers full time and fell in love with the career from the very beginning. The next step for Grimm, a constant learner, was to become an expert in education, so she began researching how to become an educator and never looked back. Grimm has since earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently working toward earning her Doctorate of Education.
Not only is Grimm working on her dissertation and teaching ECE at the college level, but she also bears the responsibility of being the Center Director at St. Peter’s Early Childhood Education Center, an early childhood center educating children from six weeks to five years old, located in Edina, Minnesota. “Being the Center Director is a huge responsibility. It is really exciting and sometimes even frightening how big of an impact my decisions can have on these children and their families,” Grimm says of her role at the center. Managing the operations for 117 children—from infants to toddlers and preschoolers, eight classrooms and 29 educators in the program, her schedule is full. She administers the hiring and placing of staff, leads the onboarding process of enrolling students and their families, oversees operations and assists with curriculum leadership all while maintaining the Department of Human Services (DHS) requirements.
Despite the demand of her many roles, Grimm has remained thankful to have both positions as a faculty member and center director. “Being a center director and working in the Center day in and day out, I can really relate with my students at Rasmussen College who are not only students but are also working in the field at the same time,” she explains. “I can offer my students practical advice because I work with young students every day and experience all of these things with them firsthand.” But Grimm isn’t the only one with experiences to share; she, too, is inspired by her students and their stories, the programs they’re working in and what they find important to their careers.
Before becoming a center director, she spent years teaching children of every age group and in different kinds of programs, which has created a wealth of experiential learning for her. Grimm explains how her ECE students at the College work with all different age groups in different programs, yet her vast experience allows her to identify with each of them—individualizing their curriculum, so they can best utilize what she teaches in their workplaces.
What is the most rewarding part of being a center director? For Grimm, it’s the kids. “That’s when I’m the happiest—seeing them learn something new and growing and thriving. Knowing we’ve walked alongside families who needed encouragement and knowing we’re making a difference in their lives. Even though it’s hard sometimes, I truly believe my work is a privilege. It’s really rewarding even when it’s challenging, but in the end, the foundation it lays for these families is rewarding,” Grimm shares.
In educating the community’s future ECE educators, she shares, “It’s really exciting to be able to multiply the efforts as an educator. If I can contribute some knowledge into others in the field by teaching college students, I know it will have a ripple effect. My students will gain this knowledge and confidence from me and my experiences, and they will spread that into their current and future workplaces.” She continues, “If I’m teaching future educators, they will be able to go and touch so many more families and little lives than I ever could on my own.”
Celebrating Week of the Young Child™
This year, Rasmussen College celebrates Week of the Young Child (WOYC) by focusing on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education in the ECE field. Though often perceived as complex concepts at the surface, these subjects can and should be simplified and introduced to children at a young age to jump-start their development in each area. “These things help make school exciting and makes them want to explore more, which translates to them being confident in their learning and in school,” Grimm says of STEAM concepts. When children work with these elements, their cognitive and creative abilities are stimulated and it causes them to want to learn more. She explains further, “It’s a genius thing to look at the areas of STEAM because it’s so conducive to Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). When you’re using those different elements of learning, it’s almost guaranteed to inspire curiosity in children.” She adds that DAP is the core foundation to knowing how to work with each student individually for optimal results, and it can be incorporated into ECE and applied to all age groups.
St. Peter’s Early Childhood Education Center integrates a lot of science into its programs, allowing its students to explore with objects and ideas like magnets, color mixing and gravity. The Center also infuses technology into the mix. For instance, all of the teachers use iPads, so they can incorporate music and eBooks into their lesson plans. “This also helps students understand the information highway through technology, and they learn that they can look up information when they have a question,” says Grimm. Presenting technology as a tool for learning teaches students to be resourceful and to further explore their everyday questions. “The STEAM concepts are really interwoven all the way through.” During WOYC, the Center will incorporate STEAM-focused activities into the program and will also designate fun daily themes, such as “Backwards Clothing Day” and “Crazy Hair Day,” at the same time. These daily happenings are meant to encourage the children to embrace their creativity and express themselves freely.
As for Rasmussen College, WOYC celebrations will be held at each of its 22 campuses and in the campus communities throughout the week, from community book readings to ECE workshops and more. “A great thing about Rasmussen, as a whole, is that they really embrace early childhood education and truly understand the importance of the ECE field. The College really celebrates and promotes it, and it’s really an honor as an educator to work with them,” says Grimm.
Help us celebrate Week of the Young Child at a campus near you, and join the conversation by following the Rasmussen College – School of Education Facebook page: facebook.com/rasmusseneducation/. To learn more about the Rasmussen College Early Childhood Education program, please visit: rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/early-childhood-education/.