As a college student, Luis Figueroa thought he wanted to teach elementary school—until he graduated and took a part-time job as a teaching assistant in an early care and education (ECE) program, where he found that he preferred working with the birth-to-age 5 set.
“At that age, they are amazed by everything, basically, so you can make a lot of difference in their lives,” he said.
Deo Agustin’s career in early care and education (ECE) began during the Great Recession, when she was laid off from her job as a program manager at a tech company. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in math before immigrating to the U.S. from the Philippines with her family in 1993, Deo had worked her way up from the motherboard assembly line to worldwide materials management to program management.
She credited her professional success to hard work, intelligence, and an interest in understanding how systems work—qualities that came in handy when her mother, who ran a family childcare in Adelanto, CA, suggested they weather the recession by going into business together. For Deo, opening a family childcare business was motivated by practicality rather than passion. She needed to work, but she had never felt called to care for children. After trading in her corporate uniform of blazers and heels for child-friendly casual wear, Deo wondered what she had gotten herself into.
“I was crying,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh Lord, is this really for me? I’m changing diapers!’”
Fourteen years later, Deo feels very differently about what she and her mother created.
Kelly Cavallini has been working in family child care for 29 years and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She briefly worked as a center director for a large chain but found that she missed the more intimate work with children and families that running a family childcare allowed her to do.
Because family child care owners often work on their own they “don’t have anyone validating” what they’re doing, said Cavallini, who works out of her home in Springfield. “You’re skipping around the house and your little ducklings are following you, and we are doing amazing work but on one sees it!”
After 39 years as an ECE provider, you’d think Marcia Gadson-Harris would have little desire—or need—for more professional development training. And yet, last October she completed Leading for Change, the 14-week professional development program offered through the Massachusetts StrongStart Professional Development Centers that trains program administrators, educators, and family child care providers on how to lead for change and quality improvement in their practice, program, or in the field.
For Gadson-Harris, the question of whether she would participate in the training was never in doubt. “I’m an avid learner,” she says. “I take lots and lots of training and there’s no such thing as too much training. You can never stop learning. That’s what life is all about.”
A study published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy found that early educators who participated in a relational-entrepreneurial leadership development program were likely to lead for change in curriculum improvement, family engagement, and relationship building after completing their training. It is one of the first empirical studies to examine whether relational-entrepreneurial leadership development training increases early educators’ capacity to lead for change and it contributes new knowledge to the emerging literature on early educator leadership development. Findings from the study, which was designed and authored by researchers at the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston, are relevant to current debate among early educators, parents, and policymakers about how to make affordable, high quality early care and education accessible to all families. Continue Reading →
This is the blog of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, a university-wide initiative housed in the College of Education and Human Development at UMass Boston.