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Career Story: Program Administrator And Early-Childhood Specialist

Program Administrator And Early-Childhood Specialist

Job Title: Director Of Educational Programs

Type of Company: I work for a YMCA that provides services to children, families, and adults to support the mind, body, and spirit. YMCA's are not-for-profit and vary in their programs, services, and structure. I am responsible for the licensed early childhood and out-of-school time programs.

Education: BA, Psychology, Brandeis University •• MSW in Management of Children and Family Programs •• CAGS (Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study) in Early Childhood Education

Previous Experience: I worked in both toddler and preschool classrooms and after-school programs as an assistant teacher, support teacher, floating teacher, and lead teacher. After several years in the classroom I was promoted to be an assistant director. From that position, I started working as a director at a small early childhood center. Within the same company, I was asked to support other centers that were struggling as well as open new centers. I left that position after 4+ years to my current role. For almost 8 years, I've worked at a YMCA as part of the senior leadership, overseeing all of the early childhood centers and out-of-school time (before- and after-school, camps, etc.) I am also an adjunct faculty member at some local colleges, as well as an early childhood consultant.

Job Tasks: In my job, I supervise several different program directors and support them in making sure that we provide high quality early childhood education, before-school and after-school programming, and summer camps.

I work with state agencies and other organizations to help make sure that the policies and procedures that we are required to follow can be implemented and that they meet the needs of both children and families. We sometimes work together to lobby the state legislature to change laws or to budget more money for the support of the children and families we serve.

I also write grants and proposals for new programs or to improve existing programs. It is also important that I stay up-to-date with current research in my field so that we can continue to improve our programs. Although fund-raising is the bailiwick of our Director of Development, all of the management staff support her in asking people for donations. I often write grants or work with her to write grants so that we can provide more financial aid to the families who use our programs.

Although I have a lot of long term projects, I also manage the financial aid of the families in my programs, problem solve when challenges occur, and support the teaching staff and parents when they need extra help. I do some work with our Board of Directors and manage the budgets associated with my program areas and any special grants that we receive that relate to my programs.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I am lucky to work with a great group of people who are just as committed as I am to giving back to our community and providing high-quality programming. Unfortunately, like others who work in the non-profit world, I put in long hours and don't get paid a lot of money.

Job Tips: If you are interested in working in education, I encourage you to think outside of the public school world. In the private sector, you have much more flexibility to run your classroom (program/school) the way you feel it should be run. You will have more options in jobs if you get your bachelor's degree in education for the age group you enjoy. In order to be successful in early childhood education, you need to have patience, creativity, dedication, and professionalism.

Additional Thoughts: I am surprised at how connected I have become to the children, families, and educators are in the same programs I am. I am also disappointed by the lack of respect given to educators who have chosen not to work in public schools, but I am motivated to help others understand the significant impact high quality early childhood education can provide to the lives of young children and their families.

If you choose to work in early childhood centers or before- and after-school programs, be prepared to work hard, explore the world through children's eyes, and support families who you might never have thought would need your help.

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