Early Ed Leadership & Innovation

We train frontline early educators and child care business owners in entrepreneurial leadership, and research ways to support them at scale

March 25, 2021
by IEELI
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With one-on-one coaching, help is just a phone call away

A rapidly expanding early education program is a nice problem to have—but it’s still a problem. Just ask Deanna Donnelly, the director of education for the Gurukul Learning Center in Chelmsford.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic and not long after Donnelly began working at the center, she became overwhelmed by new demand for spots in her program. The phone was ringing off the hook with calls from prospective parents, and Donnelly was giving so many tours that she had a hard time keeping up with her other administrative duties. Over the span of just six months, Gurukul Learning Center’s enrollment ballooned from 22 to 68 children—necessitating an expansion from three classrooms to six and the hiring, training, and teambuilding of new staff. Continue Reading →

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March 18, 2021
by IEELI
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Learning from others

With three years of experience running the Learning Tree Experience, a family child care in Dorchester, Jasmine Cox knows a lot about what it takes to create a successful ECE business: building trusting relationships with families, the importance of structure and professionalism, transparency and good communication with parents, licensors and other colleagues.

Such practices, said Cox, “speak for your program. They show that your program is a place where children will not only be cared for, but they will learn.”

But at this early stage in her ECE career, Cox is also thankful for the chance to learn from more experienced peers in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) she joined shortly early last year, shortly before the pandemic hit. The PLC is facilitated by Cox’s regional StrongStart Professional Development Center (PDC), which covers the Metro Boston region. Continue Reading →

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March 11, 2021
by IEELI
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StrongStart Professional Development Centers Are There To Help

Graphic of Keira Durrett with quote It’s safe to say that Keira Durrett has earned the title of “expert.” She’s worked in early care and education for over 30 years, 21 of them as director of the Williston North Hampton Children’s Center in Easthampton. Even so, she credits the Western Mass StrongStart Professional Development Center (PDC) with providing her with much needed resources this past year.

Shortly before early care and education programs in Massachusetts were suspended from operating in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Durrett had joined a professional learning community (PLC) run by the Western Mass StrongStart PDC. Comprised of other directors of ECE programs in her region, the PLC was set up to provide structured support for directors working through typical problems of practice: improving curricula, supporting staff, strengthening relationships with families, and streamlining back-end operations.

But as programs prepared to reopen, directors had numerous questions about maintaining health and safety, understanding the reopening guidance issued by the state, and managing finances with dramatically reduced enrollment. (For example, at the start of the year, there were 53 children enrolled in Durrett’s center. Now there are just 35.) Continue Reading →

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