Today’s post is going to be a bit unusual for me. Rather than sharing the latest news, clubs, or activities in Child Care I am going to share a bit of my story which eventually led me on my path to becoming an After School Child Care Director. As I am gearing up to enter the new school year I felt it appropriate to share and help encourage us all (myself included) to remember that what we do matters to the children we work with.
As I child I had many things going on my life that made feel different from other kids. For one, my Dad was in the military, which meant I spent much of my youth moving from place to place and being the “new kid.” As a socially awkward, somewhat shy six year old I felt like I had to start over each time we moved. Sometimes I would feel like I was almost able to put down some roots only to have them uprooted again. When I turned seven my Mom and Dad divorced. Now my mom had to go to school and work full-time and my Dad was practically out of the picture. Those days were my first days in Child Care.
First I went to a Church program and then a little later if memory serves a Boys and Girls Club. These experiences not only changed me but saved me. I don’t recall changing overnight by any means in fact I was a shy, insecure child for much of my Elementary School years. But looking back now I can see that being in Child Care at a young age helped me develop a backbone and legs to stand on in later years. I remember learning valuable life lessons and always feeling like there was someone around I could turn to if I needed. I remember fun overnight “sleep-over’s” and I even remember one time where I squashed my finger in the fence and not one but two Counselors stayed with me and comforted me until my Mom arrived.
Many years later as a College Student I entered the Teaching credential program at my College. On our first day of class my Professor informed us of a statistic. “Out of all of you, only approximately 20% of you will actually become teachers.” I ignored him, I was certain I wanted to be a Teacher; he couldn’t be talking about me. Several months later one of our assignments led us to working with children at the Local Boys and Girls Club. As I got to know the children there all my own childhood memories instantly came flooding back. How could I have forgotten what this felt like, I asked myself?
It was then I think I started to see my true path. The teaching profession is amazing and absolutely essential ~ I applaud and respect teachers very much ~ which is why I wanted to be one. But in meeting these children I felt like my place was with them ~ not in school but in the Before and After School Setting. I wanted to help make a difference in their lives, to provide stability, to be an Adult Role Model they can respect, to make them feel safe, and to plan fun and fulfilling programming for them. I wanted to provide a safe haven for them so that their parents would feel comfortable leaving them in my Care. I have now been managing a Before and After School program for nine years. Many of my former students still come back to visit and fondly remember their time at our program.
If you work in Child Care I am applauding you! Take a moment to remember ~ what you do matters! Whether you are gearing up to start the school year or your year has already begun I hope you have a great year and know that you are valued!