Educator Spotlight | Joyce Gee
Educator Spotlight | Joyce Gee
October 29, 2018 | Alexandra Louis
Joyce Gee | Toronto, ON
HiMama’s goal is to improve learning outcomes for children zero to five. We support early childhood education because the sector is the most challenging teaching environment.
Low wages, lack of professional development and long days; HiMama's aim is to ease childcare management and support early childhood professionals.
The HiMama team firmly believes that early childhood professionals deserve to be celebrated and that recognition is important. Our Educator Spotlight is one way we are shining a light on the important and undervalued work of childcare professionals.
Joyce’s Professional Background
Joyce Gee is the supervisor/manager at Esther Exton Child Care Centre and Daystrom Child Care Centre. These child care centres are lab schools for the diploma and degree programs in the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and for the Nursing students from Trent University-George Brown College doing their Community clinical practicum too. She has been at George Brown College for over 25 years now doing faculty and field work.
Working in Early Childhood Education
Joyce was a Science student at UofT and went straight through to her masters at Guelph to do the family and child studies graduate program. As part of her program, she had to do practical experiences, which then got her into the field. “I really wanted to work with children and that’s how I got into the college,” Joyce explains.
Joyce then worked in the first workplace child care at Queens Park Child Care Centre as a director, however at the time she did not feel like she was cut out for the job. She continued to teach at George Brown College in the evenings and then became the director and opened the Fashion/Ryerson seamless day program at Ryerson Public School, which was the satellite lab centre of Fashion District Child Care Centre at that time. After, she continued her work as a supervisor/manager at Scotia Plaza Child Care Centre, Casa Loma Child Care Centre, and now she is the supervisor/manager at Esther Exton Child Care Centre and Daystrom Child Care Centre.
Child Care Centres
Below is additional information about the centres that Joyce is a part of.
1. Esther Exton Child Care Centre
This centre is located near Bathurst and Lawrence, which was opened in 1990. The centre is part of Baycrest Geriatric Hospital and the Wagman Centre, which has an intergenerational program serving the seniors residents. The preschool children participate in an Intergenerational program with the senior residents at the Wagman Centre, having the seniors engage in reading stories to the children, sing songs, dancing, and arts and crafts projects. They also sometimes get invited to join Jewish holiday tea parties and the children get juice and cookies. The centre has 57 kids, having 1 infant room, 1 toddler room, and 2 preschool rooms. Learn more here: https://www.georgebrown.ca/childcare/esther-exton/
2. Daystrom Child Care Centre
This centre opened its doors in September 2014, which is part of the Toronto District School Board. The centre provides before and after school programs to the children enrolled in the Daystrom Public School for kindergarten and school aged children. Daystrom is expanding consistently and they now have grown from 6 Kindergarten children to currently 18 enrolled in the Kindergarten program. The program has expanded to 3 school aged rooms with an enrollment of 35 children. Children range from 4 years old to 10 years old. Learn more here: https://www.georgebrown.ca/childcare/daystrom/
Program’s Community/Social-Cultural Context
At Esther Exton Child Care Centre many of the families live in the Bathurst and Lawrence area and speak many languages, which include: Hebrew, Chinese, Tagalog, Turkish, Spanish, and English. At Daystrom Child Care Centre the families live in the Daystrom neighbourhood and speak many languages, which include: Farsi, Hindu, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, and English.
What Could be Better?
When reflecting on what could be improved about her experience, Joyce believes there are better strategies to make her job as a supervisor/manager better:
- “Manage my time more effectively by delegating certain tasks to certain staff. I think this will also help to develop the skills and talents of individual staff, which in turn will help me to complete the tasks too.”
- “Mentor my current staff/program leader at Daystrom Child Care Centre (offsite) the many administrative tasks, since she is working at that location everyday. The program leader can and will be the ambassador, so the frequency of my presence at the centre can be reduced.”
- “Use IT knowledge and computer skills to organize and systemize the many papers, such as waiting lists and documents.”
- “Keep focus on one task at a time and not forget to take some time to reflect every week! This helps me to set priorities and see the bigger picture, hence not to feel overwhelmed and stressed.”
Joyce supports her staff by having an open communication with them, working as a team and recognizing them for the work they are doing. For example, she had a lunch for her staff to celebrate ECE Appreciation Week. She is constantly reminding staff of what they need for AQI and providing new age-appropriate materials for each classroom (infant, toddler, preschool and kindergarten), such as new books for their library or dramatic centre.
Joyce is supportive of each staff’s needs and is always there for them. “They can always call me, text me or email me”, she said. Her door is always open for staff, students and parents to come in. She goes in early to the centres to greet everyone and see how they are doing.
Top 5 Challenges
The challenges Joyce describes are familiar to many early childhood professionals. She reflected on five challenges that increase the daily difficulties present in early learning environments:
- “Keeping staff and students up to date with paperwork and documentation.”
- “Tasks that require me to do deep thinking and reflection, such as mapping out transitions of children, enrollment, budget, and conflict issues.”
- “Being on top of the enrollment because everyone wants space.”
- “Finding a supply that is consistent.”
- “There has been a lot of changes in the field in the last 5-6 years, it is really hard to keep up to par with what's going on and also to ensure that our centre philosophy and practices also reflect those changes from the Ministry of Education, Toronto Public Health and Toronto Children services.”
Joyce cares a lot about her staff, the students doing placements at her centres and the families/children enrolled in programming. She enjoys going into the classrooms when she can, to spend quality time with the children.
Joyce is passionate about intergenerational programs because on a personal level her mother helped take care of her son. She felt like a lot of the children do not have that experience, so Esther Exton Child Care centre has implemented an intergenerational program. An intergenerational program provides opportunities for different generations to come together to share knowledge, skills and experiences.
Joyce’s experience running an early childhood education centre and the empathy it requires lends itself very well to her longtime passion for counselling. “I also took one year PD leave and completed the Work and Career Counselling diploma too. That's why I feel validated in my role as a supervisor/manager, hence I decided not to change my current role as a manager to becoming a counsellor at that time. I care about the human connection I have through listening to staff, listening to parents’ concerns, and listening to the children’s concerns”, she reflects.
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