Major: Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy
Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA
Class: Graduate student
Denni is a three year veteran of the AS Child Development Lab (ASCDL). Her first exposure to the lab was as an undergraduate who was double majoring in Psychology and Child Development. Now she is a paid assistant teacher who works in the lab 20 hours a week while completing her graduate course studies to become a family therapist.
Denni works with 3-5 year olds, primarily. However, because of her B.S. in Child Development and her practicum course, she is also certified as a site supervisor – a distinction which permits her to substitute for any of the career staff teachers as needed. This flexibility allows her to”float” between age groups making Denni a very valuable member of the ASCDL team. She may find herself working in the infant room one week and then be pinch-hitting in a toddler classroom the next. It is her dependability, adaptability, and organizational skills that allow Denni to function effectively regardless of the setting.
Denni hopes to be a Marriage and Family Therapist and this daily exposure to a diverse group of children is excellent preparation for that goal. Initially Denni sees herself working for a state or county agency, but ultimately she would like to have a private practice. Because her academic training has taught her what is developmentally appropriate for different age groups, Denni is able to distinguish what is and isn’t normal behavior and will be able to apply that therapeutically. “90% of therapeutic success is based on the bond between the therapist and the client. My experience here at the ASCDL has enhanced my ability to connect with children and their families and gain invaluable exposure and insight to real life issues.”
Denni is quick to identify other bonuses of her job: friendships with her co-workers, her sense of community, and her connection to the campus. “A big part of my college experience has been working for the AS.” Working side by side with ASCDL career staff she plays an active role in curriculum development and decision-making. She constantly learns by observing the techniques and approaches used by her colleagues to handle a variety of situations. “I always draw from my work in the lab to inform my classroom experience and vice versa. I share my stories within the bounds that confidentiality allows.”
In Denni’s words:
“I love kids because they help me keep things in perspective. You can’t be in a bad mood when you work with kids. They bring light into my life every time I’m with them. I am outspoken and goofy which is probably why I connect so well with children. It’s fun to have a job where I can be myself.”