YWCA Richmond Staff Spotlight: Monshaye Napier

Meet Monshaye Napier, Site Supervisor of the Sprout School at The Children’s Museum. 

Since high school, Monshaye has known that she loves to work with children. When she first sought out a career in education, she was not drawn to the structured days of teaching older students, but instead admired the freedom, creativity, and flexibility of early childhood education.

After gaining experience at Westminster Canterbury, Monshaye became interested in the Sprout School, a preschool with a unique Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. She joined the team in 2016 as an assistant teacher during the Sprout School at the Children’s Museum first year. Monshaye makes it clear that working at the Sprout School feels like being part of a family — “it’s like we’ve been here forever.”

Now, as the Site Supervisor, Monshaye covers everything from enrollment, to overseeing classrooms, to ensuring teacher wellbeing. Making sure the school runs smoothly keeps her days busy and diverse; “every day is different,” she said. Whether it’s acting as a substitute teacher in the Sky or Forest Room, conducting the Pre-K PALS standardized tests, or putting in meal counts to qualify for USDA funding, Monshaye knows every aspect of the Sprout School operation.

Cautioning against the misconception that early childhood education is simply babysitting, Monshaye described the Sprout School’s Reggio Emilia philosophy as teachers creating and facilitating an environment for learning through observing their students. Reggio teachers provide multiple different methods for students to learn a subject through—whether that’s constructing something with their hands, painting, or exploring outside. It’s a job that requires hands-on work and hours of planning.

Naturally, the best part of Monshaye’s day is seeing the smiles of her students as she walks down the hallway hearing many calls of “Ms. Shaye! Ms. Shaye!” from students as she gives tours, but what she finds most rewarding about her job is the end result of preparing students for kindergarten. “Once, I received an email from a parent with a photo of two [former Sprout School] students, saying that both of their kindergarten teachers described them as good critical thinkers with vivid imaginations,” Monshaye said. “It means a lot to know you’re making an impact.”

Written By: Caroline Ryan, YWCA Dev. & Communications Intern