Martha Castillo-Milisenda: Opening doors with early childhood education

Experienced educator, Martha Castillo-Milisenda ‘03 learns every day from the children in her classroom as she passes on new knowledge to them.

By Meaghan Drury ‘12

Early childhood educator, Martha Castillo-Milisenda ‘03 has been dedicated to developing young minds for over ten years with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

A graduate of Mohawk’s Early Childhood Education program in 2003, she loves the experiences she has gained in her classroom. “Every day is a new day. Children are so carefree and very creative. I learn so much, they teach [me] so much about life,” she says.

Each school day begins with Martha — or Ms. Milisenda as she’s known to her students — greeting the children as they arrive. “That's so important. They just want to know that there's someone they trust at the door,” she says. From there the students gather on the carpet to greet each other and learn about the theme of the day before heading off to the various learning centres around the classroom – everything from sandboxes to painting easels to building blocks are available for the students to explore.

In fall 2022, a new person joined Martha’s classroom. Jessica Simpson, a Mohawk College Early Childhood Education student, completed a portion of her field placement requirements working and learning along with the children.

Both Martha and her students enjoyed Jessica’s presence. “It's been fantastic. She's been great. Reminding me of my experiences in my field placements when I was learning to become an educator, as I’m [helping] her learn how to manage the classroom,” says Martha.

Jessica adds that her Mohawk education has been expanded in her placement, "[I’ve] learned how to translate the [theoretical] ideas of what I learned in school, in [my] work field.”

Martha emphasizes the importance of field placement work, “[Jessica]'s learned so many different new things. [But also] I've learned how to teach her that not everything is perfect. You know, sometimes we'll have plans that get sidetracked and not every day goes smoothly,” Martha explains.

Working together with a number of other educational professionals they provide their students with many of the building blocks for their lives. “This is where children [develop] learning skills, especially math and language,” Martha says. “This is where they learn, the beginning, where we teach them how to interact with each other socially and emotionally, then they grow from here.”

When not in her ECE classroom, Martha can be found in another classroom. She is in the process of finishing her Social Sciences degree from Brock University. She has also graduated from Mohawk’s Social Service Worker diploma program in 2010.

Mohawk College Early Childhood Education Alumni


Outside the classroom she uses her creativity and background in photography with her side-business, Lisita Photography. Due to her background in early childhood education she has been able to connect with many families that have appreciated her comfort with children. “This has opened doors for my business as well,” she says.

“Taking my Early Childhood Education diploma was the best thing I've ever done. I've learned so much. With this diploma, there's so many job options,” Martha says. “You can go to university and use the credits from your diploma towards a degree if you wanted to. It has opened so many doors for me.”

Martha would like to thank her colleagues Mr. Condari, Mr. Pereira, Mrs. Bak, Mr. Menegazzo, Mrs. Amos, Ms. Reynolds and Mrs. Iachetti for their comradery and support inside and outside the classroom.

This story originally appeared in the print issue of Spring 2023 InTouch magazine.