Early Childhood Hero- Noun
/Ear-ly Chi-ld-hoo-d He-ro/- An individual or organization in the Early Childhood field who exemplifies outstanding and notable achievements in their community.
HiMama received dozens of nominations of individuals in the Early Childhood community who are going above and beyond to help their families, children and communities during Covid-19. We were lucky enough to interview these heroes and get their story on how they’ve helped their communities and persevered through challenging and uncertain times as well as gain some advice to share with others.
Our first interview with an Early Childhood Hero begins with Claribel Zorrilla in San Marcos, California, who is a director at Maac Child Development Center Gosnell. Claribel describes being in the field of Early Childhood Education as her passion, so Claribel was quite humble about the nomination of being chosen as an Early Childhood Hero as she’s “just doing as much as she can without thinking too much about it!”
When Covid first hit the city of San Marcos closing Claribel’s child care center, she knew she needed to provide educational services to her children without missing a beat. At the same time she knew she needed to continue to provide meal distribution services for her families that needed them regardless if they were able to come into the center to pick them up or not. For families who were not able to make it into the center to pick up their supplies, she set-up a home delivery service, truly going above and beyond for her families during Covid-19.
Here are Claribel’s tips on how to provide exceptional service as a child care provider:
Reassure and Trust Your Staff
Considering the size of her center, providing her staff with peace of mind was a huge challenge that she overcame. Claribel also faced the challenges of reassuring her staff. “Providing my staff with peace of mind, a safe space and letting them give feedback during these times and having them trust us has been a challenge that we overcame.” We reassured our staff we wouldn’t reopen if they weren’t safe.” Like many other centers, technology has played a huge role in her success during Covid. “Being able to log on and have conversations with [the children in my center] has been great for both the children and staff.”
Change is Inevitable
“I’ve become comfortable with the unknown.Things are changing everyday and knowing that it’s changing and keeping that in mind is helpful.”
Her advice to other center directors and owners? ”Keep going, families need us and they trust us. They trust that we’re keeping their kids safe and healthy.”
When asked to provide advice to other center directors and owners going through the reopening woes right now, Claribel did not hesitate to offer it up.
“Take deep breaths and go with the flow. There’s nothing we can control right now and we need to recognize that things have changed and we have to get used to it.”
She also encourages talking to someone else [in the field] to run ideas off of and borrow ideas, it’s ok to do what others are doing.” Claribel also emphasized the importance of taking care of yourself too. “I’ve realized that right now I’m coming to the point and coming to burnout and I recognize it. Separating work life and home life is [vital] because if you do have a family you don’t want to bring additional stress home.”
Do you know an individual or organization who deserves to be recognized? Tell us their story by submitting it online HERE.