South LA teacher learns Spanish to help students

By Jennifer Quinonez

image“This is how you wrap the baby, so she stays warm,” said Preschool Teacher Reshon Moutra recently, as she gently held a doll while giving an impromptu life experience lesson to three preschoolers.

“She needs milk too,” said excited four-year-old student, Emmy, as she pitched in during free playtime at Moffett State Preschool in Lennox.

Teaching children self-help skills and more comes naturally to Moutra, who is in her second year as the preschool lead teacher. Yet, surprisingly, teaching wasn’t her first choice.

“I used to dream of being an obstetrician/gynecologist and delivering babies,“ Moutra said. “I was pre-med at Fresno State, but after my first semester, I found out that medicine was not my thing, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Fortunately for Moutra, crossing paths with a group of children on her college campus forever changed her life. Feeling frustrated after a particularly challenging class, she saw preschoolers taking a nature walk.

image“They all began to wave and speak to me and instantly, and I felt my mood change from sad to happy,” said Moutra. “It was as if a light bulb illuminated. I called my mom right away and told her, ‘Mama, I know what I want to be! I want to be a preschool teacher,’ and I never looked back.”

Moutra, who was born in Compton and later raised in Carson, says she is thrilled to work in Lennox, near her old hometown and in a career that helps children at the beginning of their educational path.

She says she has faced many personal and professional challenges in her position as a teacher, but tackles them with the same inspiration and passion that she felt back in college.

“Over the last few years, my biggest challenge was finishing my Master’s degree with a newborn baby, and juggling a new job in a community that is predominantly Spanish speaking,“ continued Moutra. “Most of the children and parents I serve are only Spanish speaking, but I am determined to become fluent.”

Nellie Para-Rios, director of Lennox State Preschool, says she can’t say enough about Moutra’s dedication.

image“We’re so impressed that Reshon is working on her Spanish skills,” she said. “As she grapples with a second language, she can better empathize and support her students,” said Para-Rios. “Her expertise is in knowing that expressive language has a timeline, so she relies on the five senses, routines, visuals and gestures to promote communication. When children see her attempt, then they are more apt to do so as well while they learn English.”

For Moutra, being part of the whole early care and educational experience has been worthwhile, because as she states, her work is making a difference in the lives of the four-year-olds now in her care, and for the community at large.

“Having these kids come to school every day, I see first-hand how fast they pick up everything from new English language skills, to literacy, math, creativity and more,” said Moutra. “I know that by being here, they are becoming better prepared for their future and I am honored to have a big part in that path.”

Please visit or 866-675-5400 for more information about enrolling your child in a high-quality preschool program in Los Angeles County.

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