Faculty & Staff
Preschool Assistant Teacher
A modern school needs assistant teachers to help with its youngest students, especially preschoolers. It also needs aftercare workers to help with students of all ages who may not be able to go home right away when the school day ends.
Those are two different jobs. But at present, St. John is blessed to have several women who are doing both.
For two of them, it’s partly a family affair. Lauren Reifsteck and Brianna Reifsteck are the stepdaughter and daughter, respectively, of St. John pre-K teacher Katie Reifsteck. When positions at the school opened up, each of them leapt at the chance to apply.
Lauren, who’d previously worked for Head Start, came to St. John first, in 2020. Brianna, who’d previously worked for Bright Beginnings Learning Center and St. Joseph Christian Day Care (both in St. Joseph), came the following year.
They share more than family ties. Like an interest in caring for and educating children that went back well into their own childhoods. And a sense of gratification in helping children to come out of their shells.
“I like it when you see how much a child changes during a school year and how much you’ve impacted them,” Lauren says. “Like when a mom tells you her son doesn’t like singing or dancing, and months later, she says, ‘I don’t know what you did, but now he loves to sing and dance!’ ”
“I love helping kids learn to do things for themselves,” Brianna says. “That’s when you can see their confidence grow. Some of the shyest kids at the start of the year can turn into the most outgoing ones by the end.”
For Staci Eddington, family didn’t bring her directly to St. John. But it brought her from Baltimore to Champaign-Urbana when she moved here with family members. And her heart for working with children did the rest.
“I just love to be around children,” she says. “I have two nieces and a lot of little cousins who I was always taking care of. I have aunts who work in child care. So this sort of thing was always around me—and in me.”
While living in Maryland, she spent three years working in a preschool and five more providing home-based day care. She began working at St. John in 2020, very shortly after moving to this area.
Her favorite part of the work day comes first thing in the morning.
“I love it when the children first come in,” she says. “They’re so eager to start the day and to talk to you. A lot of them color and draw pictures for you. And it’s so sweet because they did this for you. That’s so rewarding.”