Nearly twenty years ago I was one of the only ‘stay at home moms’ in my neighborhood. I began to be asked by friends and neighbors to watch their children, so after my third child was born I had my home licensed as a large family day care. I qualified for the larger capacity license because of the many years of volunteer experience working in my children’s classrooms and teaching Sunday school. While working as a home daycare provider I decided I wanted to someday be able to teach preschool or have a childcare center outside my home.
I researched the requirements and discovered that I had a long road ahead of me. The first step was to get an education. I enrolled in adult education and earned my High School Diploma at 31 years old. My 3 young daughters, parents and grandparents were at my graduation ceremony to watch the first person in my family in 3 generations to receive a diploma! I began my college education in Early Childhood Education while growing and raising my family over the next several years. I worked at many different jobs during that time which provided useful experiences and introduced me to many professionals in the field.
In one of those jobs I worked in the children’s ministry department at my church and eventually became the Director of Nursery and Childcare Ministry for a mega church in Modesto. When the church expanded and started another large church, I became the Director of Children’s Ministries. After several years I was offered an opportunity to work as a consultant to help churches start childcare centers and preschools funded by a First Five grant. It was exciting and rewarding helping new programs to get started but I missed working directly with families and children.
My work opened the doors for me to start up a preschool program and continue on as the Director/Teacher. This came at a perfect time as my family was moving from the central valley of California to the Sierra foothills. This new position was another First Five funded pilot program for Universal Preschool. When the First Five contract ended the need for preschool and childcare in my new town was now apparent to me. I took a break from working at this time to complete the last few classes I needed and I graduated from MJC with honors earning an AS in Child Development.
I applied and received a Site Supervisor Permit from the CCTC. Then I invested some money in my dream and opened my own childcare and preschool. My business was highly successful for over five years. A personal crisis in my life caused me to close my school, take some time off, reevaluate my life, explore some other options, but in the end, I returned to what I love. I am now working as a Lead Preschool Teacher for AESD, a job I love because I spend most of my time teaching. I am continuing my education working toward a bachelor’s degree to keep current and improve my knowledge and skills in ECE. . What are the most rewarding experiences you have had? The most rewarding experiences have been ones where I have worked with families for several years and watched the growth of the children and parents. These are experiences where positive changes happened through the relationships that were developed and it is seen in the family members as well as the preschool child. 3. What have been your challenges in this profession? In the beginning the challenges were raising my own family, being a fulltime college student and working in the field all at the same time.
As a seasoned professional, the challenges are related more to complying with administrative requirements that are burdensome, controlling or developmentally inappropriate. An example of this is being required to use a curriculum that I feel is inappropriate and not well rounded while trying to meet the state Desired Results. 6. What are your Strengths? My strengths lie in building relationships with parents and children, being flexible with resources and plans, and mentoring teachers.
I also believe my teaching strengths are in the area of teaching early literacy skills to preschoolers and encouraging parents in working with their children through challenging developmental periods. 7. What Advise could you give to a new Director? Build relationships with you families by getting them involved in a way that is comfortable for them, get to know your staff and what their interests and talents are, keep things simple and responsibilities clear, keep good notes, invest your energy in giving away your knowledge, be a mentor and show appreciation! 8. How do you develop your budget plan?
Budget planning is often determined by the funding source and type of program. A basic starting point is to determine the number of children to be served and staff needed, then determine costs. Begin with staffing needs, rent and insurance, and then utilities, capital equipment and materials, and expendable supplies. 9. How would you locate additional funds for your program? Search and apply for grants, hold fundraisers, collaborate with other organizations, seek community partnerships. Lori Dusin Leader Interview Essay The leader I chose to interview was Michele Johnson.
She is my site supervisor at Aileen Colburn Preschool in Atwater. I chose to interview her because I am currently working with her as her assistant teacher. This assignment was a great opportunity for me to be able to get to know her and her knowledge at little better. Mrs. Johnson started pretty much at the bottom and worked her way up which gives me hope. She explained how she was interested in learning about early childhood because of being a stay at home mom and watching her neighbors children. She started working in her church for Childcare Ministry. That’s when she realized this was her calling.
She went back to school after twelve years and received her high school diploma. She continued she education at MJC and received her associates degree in early childhood development. She is still going to school to complete her bachelors degree. Mrs. Johnson feels her strengths are with building relationships with the parents and children that she works with. She enjoys mentoring teachers to help them improve the lives of other children and families. She encourages parents in to work with their children through challenging developmental periods. She not only educates the children but the parents as well.
Some of Mrs. Johnson most rewarding experiences have been ones where she worked with the same families for several years and watched the growth of the children and parents. She grew close to those families because of the strong relationships they built together. Some challenges in this profession was having time to raise her own family while being a fulltime college student and working in the field all at the same time. As a seasoned professional, she has had challenges that related more to complying with administrative requirements that are burdensome, controlling or developmentally inappropriate.
She gave an example of having to be required to use a curriculum that she feels is inappropriate and not well rounded while trying to meet the state Desired Results. Mrs. Johnson’s advice for a new director was to build strong relationships with families by getting them involved in a way that is comfortable for them. She stated that it was important to get to know your staff and what their interests and talents they have so they can be involved in the classroom. She likes to keep things simple and responsibilities clear.
She feels it’s important to use energy in giving away your own personal knowledge and mentor and always show appreciation to your staff. Without staff then the classroom would not function the same. Everyone must all be on the same page. I was interested in learning more about budget planning and how to locate additional funds for a program. Mrs. Johnson stated that the funding is often determined by the funding source and type of program. A basic starting point is to determine the number of children to be served and staff needed, then determine costs.
Begin with staffing needs, rent and insurance, and then utilities, capital equipment and materials, and expendable supplies. She said it’s important to search and apply for grants, hold fundraisers, collaborate with other organizations, and seek community partnerships. Throughout this assignment I learned more about my current leader and the expectations she has. For the most part her answers matched my perceptions because of my pervious knowledge in field. Mrs. Johnson is a great leader and a great mentor to follow. Hopefully I will have the same impact on others as she does someday.