Helping Teachers Help Children

Instructional Coordinator Kenya Duncan during Dr. Seuss Week

If you’ve ever spent any time with Kenya Duncan, Frazer Center’s Instructional Coordinator, you know she’s a positive, creative, exuberant spirit. You might not ever suspect that she was shy and withdrawn as a child. But Kenya says that’s partly why she is compelled to nurture children today. You might also find it hard to believe that she spent two years in the Army as a field artillery meteorologist. She credits that experience with building her confidence and giving her a can-do attitude, but it didn’t take her long to realize she would rather serve her country through the classroom.

Kenya’s journey from the military to the Frazer Center wasn’t exactly an easy one. She endured two apartment fires, worked two jobs while getting her bachelor’s degree (Child Development Psychology) and master’s degree (Early Childhood Studies), all while raising her son, essentially, single-handedly. It’s her passion for working with young children that has been her driving force.

Kenya has been in the child development field for fifteen years, starting with after-school care, moving to assistant preschool teacher, lead teacher, assistant program director, and now to her current position with Frazer. As Instructional Coordinator, Kenya helps teachers help children. She trains them on such things as strategies, curriculum, lesson plans, and age-appropriate classroom environments.

Kenya in a planning session with teachers

Frazer’s mission of inclusion was new to Kenya, and she has definitely become a proponent for inclusion programs in early childhood education. It’s very rewarding to “get the parents [of a child with a disability], teachers, and therapists around the same table and track how much the child improves from September to May,” she says. If a teacher needs a certain resource to help keep that child motivated, Kenya does everything in her power to get it for the teacher.

At the start of this new school year, Kenya wants to give particular focus to Frazer’s assistant teachers. “I want to help them stretch and expand this year, to feel more empowered and confident in their leadership skills in the classroom.” Her love and respect for all the teachers and what they do is palpable. She knows first-hand how stressful the work can be and how challenging it is to balance work and family life. That’s why she is always on the lookout for more resources to help the teachers find that balance.

There is definitely a creative element to her job, and using her creativity is what makes Kenya happiest. “This is the best job I’ve ever had! I get to take all the ideas in my head and pour them out. It fuels my passion.” The ripple effect of that kind of joy and passion may spread beyond Kenya’s knowing, but we’re confident that all of our children at Frazer are in its wake.

Kenya with Ms. Cathy and the Jungle classroom