Michelle Lazur Cropped Large Res

Staff Spotlight: Michelle Lazur
By Shawn Deiter

A tiny, curly-haired girl, barely two years old, toddles into the classroom looking around for her teacher. When she spots her, the girl excitedly runs into her arms for a big hug. Michelle Lazur, assistant toddler teacher, looks forward to the morning greetings from her adorable students.

Ms. Michelle, also known as “Shell” because the toddlers are just learning to pronounce her name, has been an essential member of LVCC’s Fowler Center staff in Bethlehem for the past six years. Many of the current preschool and elementary school-age children had her as a teacher. Children thrive in environments where they feel secure, with consistent classrooms and positive teacher-student relationships. The feeling of security among the children is evident as the older children parade past to say hello to “Shell,” some stopping to give her hugs.

The parents feel equally comfortable and confident having Michelle as their child’s teacher or assisting other teachers with the children.

“With my daughter being only 18 months old, she’s just learning to talk; I mostly have to rely on nonverbal cues,” says Mindy Lewberg, parent at LVCC’s Fowler Center. “It’s easy to see that she LOVES Ms. Michelle, who taught her a silly version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Now she wants to sing it all the time. It’s the cutest thing. Ms. Michelle is right down on the floor with the kids, not in a chair or bending over them, but actually sitting at their level. I’m so glad LVCC has such caring and fun teachers.”

Parents of toddlers have tons of questions about their child’s development. When will my son start potty training? When will my daughter use bigger words? Luckily, experienced teachers like Michelle can help families find the answers. Her career in early childhood education stretches over twenty years. If she hasn’t experienced it in her classroom, she knows where to find reliable information to give parents the proper tools to foster their child’s development.

“My hope is for the children to leave my classroom with better self-help skills, manners, and to be kind to friends—all skills to help them succeed in their next level of development,” Michelle says.

Working with toddlers requires flexibility in planning activities. The teachers must work within the child’s abilitites—socially, emotionally and physically. Lesson plans may need modification in the middle of an activity in a toddler classroom.

“Once I planned a lesson making sea animals using Playdoh. The kids just sat there disinterested, so we went outside for water play activities instead.” Michelle explains. “They were more interested in splashing water to see what happens. We saved the Playdoh for another time.”

At this age, toddlers love to explore. Michelle plans a number of messy, hands-on activities to pique their curiosity. Sometimes they finger paint, while other times they use brushes or other tools to paint. She fills the sensory table with different seasonal objects for the children to discover and touch. During the summer, she fills it with sand and seashells for a beach theme. In the springtime, she fills plastic eggs with yellow pom poms to represent chicks. Although the “chicks” are not real, the toddlers usually express concern about the baby chicks inside the eggs.

“Between two and three years old, children are reaching many developmental milestones. I find working with toddlers and helping them interact with other children a rewarding experience,” Michelle says.