Your Name: Connie Estampador Adaya
Job Title: Manager/Lead Instructor at Little Pea Kids Commons Bangkok
What is your nationality and background?
I was born in the suburban area of Bulacan but spent most of my growing up years in Manila, which is just a 45- minute drive without heavy traffic. I have a degree in Communication Arts, a TEFL Certification, and a Post- Graduate Diploma in Education. It’s been such a joy teaching various levels from preschool, primary to teens and professionals but I have the longest and happiest teaching stints in the early years level. At the moment, I’ve been juggling a very busy working wifey-mommy life while I am inching closer to finishing my M.A. Ed. in Early Childhood Education soon.
I came to Bangkok in April 2000 for a holiday. Time flew by and after almost 20 years, I am still here!
What is your profession?
I am the Manager/Lead Instructor of the Little Pea Kids Commons.
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
I manage the entire operations of this family-friendly café with activities at the COMMONS in Thonglor 17 with the help of our amazing team. I also pioneered the playgroups and class concepts, workshops and also designed school break camp themes. We will also bring such programs to the new COMMONS in Saladaeng next year. My job requires me to be a multi-tasker so I can work in and with different departments: administration, café, activity, marketing, and dealing with outside specialist teachers or workshop providers to maintain a smooth flow – also making sure everyone is happy, engaged and progressing. I lead and train teachers to facilitate our playgroups that introduce little ones to play-based learning while bonding and having fun with parents/guardians and meeting new friends. It is such a delight to see babies and toddlers develop cognitive, social-emotional and fine/gross motor skills which are essential in preparing them for international preschools.
How did you get involved in your profession?
Meeting the owner of the Little Pea through a good friend (six months before the entire building was finished) made me decide to stay in Bangkok indefinitely. It was such an exciting time since I was also instrumental in creating, designing programs and almost everything that was involved in the planning and implementation process before we opened.
I have always felt I have a heart for teaching and handling special activities/events. As a child, I enjoyed dancing in school programs, and later on I also taught and choreographed dance and tambourine productions at church. I was quite a Jill-of-all-trades growing up – joining numerous extra-curricular activities in school from dancing to cheer leading, volleyball, track and field to student council & high school military training to acting, emceeing in family gatherings, becoming an editor-in-chief of a weekly college paper and eventually working in radio/tv, advertising and marketing promotions. These various experiences, I believe, have greatly empowered me into becoming a passionate, versatile Teacher.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children and families?
Meeting new families or first-time parents has also been an honor since I am able to impart those things I wish I had known earlier. I like making them feel they are not alone and it is normal to have varying emotions or it is perfectly fine if we don’t know everything right away because awesome parenting is a learning process, too. I am so thankful I have made great friends and acquaintances that has also been equally enriching and heartwarming.
In addition, I need to always guarantee our place remains safe, hygienic, wholesome, child and family-centered, making sure all our guests have a great time, be it in classes, workshops, school term break camps, birthday party bookings or just simply relaxing at our Café.
Indeed, we prepare interesting activities for children (and adults) to do but I also keep in mind that there are children who would go below or beyond our expectations, and we are totally supportive of that.
At Little Pea, we also welcome children with special needs to join our workshops and term break camps as long as we are informed by parents about their condition – whether they require to bring own shadow teachers or they have undergone early intervention or training or if they would require more tender-loving care from us to ensure they enjoy the activities even with less supervision to help them become independent. There are also some little ones who started out so shy and reserved in my Creative Storytime & Crafts class but after several months, they have become so active, confident, even retelling our stories with moral values, thus, improving creative and critical thinking in their own little way.
I love to see how children enjoy, thrive, express themselves, and most of all feel happy, confident, and mindful of what and who is around them.
What challenges do you face in this role?
I call myself and my staff happily-exhausted when we are at our busiest but we laugh our way through the process because we enjoy what we do. The greatest challenge is to remain creative and innovative as many similar places have mushroomed after we opened in 2016. We need to stay updated, dynamic and original. It’s such a blessing also to have been able to collaborate with a lot of amazing teachers and workshop providers instead of treating them as competitors. After all, the greatest goal is to make every child or family happy, engaged and fulfilled in every class or visit to our place.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
Working with children for almost two decades now has been so rewarding yet humbling. This industry requires so much love and passion as it can be very stressful. Creating and managing programs plus dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds is another kind of stress, at times, so I hope our fellow fun and enrichment providers out there will continue to press on, remain flexible, therefore, keeping balance of life’s ups and downs because sometimes we miss family occasions since we are mostly open on family days. I am just so blessed I can bring my family at the Little Pea to enjoy many holidays and events because our atmosphere is so welcoming.
I hope we can also find a way to unite great family-friendly places to move in the same direction towards social and environmental awareness, also instilling good moral education to children so they grow up confident, compassionate and awesome individuals this world needs.
It would be so wonderful to remain one of the most pleasant places for people to gather together, meet new friends from all walks of life, value harmonious relationships and respect each and every one, as we strive to learn new things to remain purposeful and inspiring in life.
Who or what inspires you?
Jesus is my hero. We all have shortcomings and weaknesses but my faith strengthens me especially during tough times. Knowing I am a work in progress keeps me grounded be it in victorious or difficult days.
I, of course, find being with children so inspiring. Their smiles, laughter, innocent charming thoughts and witty, surprising ideas make my heart melt. The way they react to singing/dancing/play time, storytelling or group discussions is just pure, genuine and simply mesmerizing that takes me to a deeper level of fulfillment.
Seeing, meeting or reading about a lot of creative educators/artists who not just teach from the heart but recognize that every child is unique and has different needs, is highly motivating. I admire those individuals who really care for children as they go through life’s learning journey or those parents/influencers who help our young generation maximize their potentials to gear them up for greater obstacles and responsibilities when they become adults.
I am also inspired by the family behind the success of the COMMONS. Their love and compassion to bring back to the community, even to the less fortunate, is what our society needs now. We should all use our talent, our voice and our resources wisely to help one another and make a difference.
More importantly, my family and friends inspire me immensely. My daughter makes me strive so much harder to be a better person so I could be a good role model to her.
Only a Bangkok local would know… that life here is never complete without going for foot and back massages every week or at least once a month! Driving can be crazy due to heavy traffic or counter-flowing “mocy” (motorcycle taxis) but mind you, they can really get you anywhere when in a mad rush! You should also know that most locals here do not like honking their horn nor getting honked at. I was told it is rude to honk especially in residential areas so use your headlights to flash and let other drivers know of your presence. Most locals are very respectful and polite so I honor that.