How were you first inspired to enter the field of early childhood education?
“After being a camper, I worked as a camp counselor. I enjoyed working with children! Mentoring and coaching just seemed like a natural fit for me. So then I knew I wanted to pursue my love of early childhood education. I started as a Toddler and Preschool Teacher, and then had the opportunity to direct various summer programs. In 1986, I saw in the New York Times that the college was starting a child care center and I applied!”
What are some key changes that have occurred in the field, since you founded the Virginia Marx Children’s Center 36 years ago?
“Compared to when I began here, there are many more licensing requirements, which are great in terms of ensuring the health and safety of children in programs. Keeping up to date with regulations is so important! Also, due to the pandemic, I feel parents are more appreciative of the value of early care and education, and have a better understanding of how challenging and difficult the work can be. Especially when parents were at home with children rather than them being in care, it really opened their eyes to the importance of the work that we do.”
In terms of recruiting and keeping aboard dedicated and talented educators at the center, what do you find is most important?
“I think listening to and really hearing teachers is important; also, salaries and benefits are vital to retaining staff. Giving them professional development opportunities so that they can grow–whether workshops, or supporting them with pursuing a degree. This gives them different perspectives and contributes to them being lifelong learners. Finally, I would say that acknowledging the work they do on a daily basis is critical!”
What made you want to participate with QUALITYstarsNY, beginning with the Field Test in 2010?
“I wanted to be part of it because it would be a unique opportunity to have a campus-based early childhood program as part of the QUALITYstarsNY pilot. In addition to providing quality care and education, we are also a lab and demonstration site, where early childhood students do field internships. So we felt that this would be new and valuable programming aspect for QUALITYstarsNY to see.”