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Nature Preschool Assistant

Dallas Zoo
Dallas, United States Posted: May 23, 2024


This position is an assistant teaching and caregiving position for the Wild Earth Preschool program, a nature preschool at the Dallas Zoo. Classes are mixed-age groups of children ages 3-5 years old who attend full-time daycare. Equipped with growing knowledge in early childhood development or a related field and the ability to inspire children to connect with nature through play and exploration, the assistant fosters positive relationships with children, parents, and staff to benefit whole-child growth. Together with the teaching team, this position assists in planning, implementing, and documenting learning; maintaining safety and regulation standards; and participating in nature-based activities with the children in all safe weather conditions. Assistants are organized, responsible, joyful, energetic, flexible, child-focused, safety-conscious, and enjoy being outdoors year-round for most of the day.

  • Regular working hours, typically 40 per week, are scheduled Monday – Friday, though some weekends and evenings will be required for family events and staff meetings. Hours may vary between 7:30 am and 6:15 pm. 
SPECIFIC DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
  • Teaching and Curriculum:
  • Assist in facilitation of developmentally appropriate nature-based preschool programming.
  • Incorporate project-based learning in an emergent curriculum that follows National Association for Educators of Young Children (NAEYC) and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Guidelines.
  • Assist in planning learning opportunities based on child interests, including outdoor activities, play, art, music, dance and drama, language, math, science, technology, social/emotional, gross motor, and fine motor skills.
  • Help young children with self-help skills in dressing, grooming, bathroom activities, etc.
  • Assist in preparing environments and materials to support learning opportunities.
  • Assist in conducting formative assessments and maintain child portfolios.
Relationships:
  • Sustain a welcoming, peaceful, and joyful classroom family atmosphere.
  • Assist in developing children’s emotional, social, and behavioral skills through connection with nature, positive guidance, conflict resolution strategies, and mindfulness approaches.
  • Sustain a culturally responsive inclusive environment for children and their families.
Physical Environment:
  • Assure children’s physical and emotional safety, including following procedures in medication administration, allergy management, and authorized release.
  • Assist in maintaining a clean, healthy, safe outdoor and indoor environment. Ensure accurate and timely documentation of compliance logs.
  • Respond to emergencies in a calm and responsible manner.
  • Communicate concerns about the learning environment or children to the Early Childhood Manager.
Families:
  • Involve families in their children’s educational growth and encourage families to fully participate in the program.
  • Positively communicate child progress with family members and other teaching staff.
  • Administration and Operations:
  • Collaborate with parents, guardians, education staff, and other zoo departments.
  • Maintain compliance with all relevant governmental, company, and departmental rules and regulations.
QUALIFICATIONS
  • Education and Experience
  • High school diploma or GED required.
  • Valid CDA or 12 college credits in Early Childhood Education (ECE), Child Development (CD), Elementary Education (ELED), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSPED), or enrolled in a program that will lead to these qualifications or higher preferred.
  • Experience in nature-based programming and demonstrated interest in conservation and environmental education preferred.
Knowledge and Skills
  • Knowledge of basic biologic, ecologic, geologic, natural historic concepts preferred.
  • Must demonstrate strong emotional intelligence, including empathy and listening skillset.
  • Must demonstrate working knowledge of hazards and risk assessment as related to the environments of young children.
  • Must be flexible and willing to assist with a variety of teaching and administrative duties.
  • Must be able to create a culturally responsive inclusive environment for children and their families.
  • Must be able to communicate positively and effectively in English, orally and in writing. Communication in another language a plus.
  • Must demonstrate computer literacy, including use of Microsoft Office Suite and email.
Working Conditions

Must be able to work outdoors in all seasons and all types of weather conditions 60% or more of each day.

  • Must be able to safely navigate a variety of surfaces, walk long distances, stand for extended periods of time, sit, kneel, stoop, crawl, twist, reach above head, climb stairs or ramps, and carry up to 50 lb.
  • A typical work week is 40 hours, M-F. Occasional evenings and weekends are scheduled for parent meetings, in service trainings, and/or special events.
Other
  • Pediatric CPR/first aid certification required, or the ability to receive certification within 2 weeks of employment
  • Complete drug screening, background check, TB test.
  • Must be able to sign DFPS form 2985 Affidavit for Applicants for Employment with a Licensed Child Care Center.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license to operate company vehicles and reliable transportation 

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