Learning from a childcare center director on operating during a pandemic podcast header

Learning from a childcare center director on operating during a pandemic [Podcast]

This week on The Preschool Podcast, we are excited to welcome Tirusha Dave, Founder of Ellie’s Academy. Otherwise known as the “Early Education Entrepreneur”, Tirusha is a professional leader in early childhood education and has worked in the childcare industry for over ten years! We chat to her about navigating the role of a director prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being a childcare center director

Tirusha opened her first Ellie’s Academy location in 2018. Previously working as an educator and then a director, she was ready to take the step to being an owner. She is determined to drive her team to always do more and give them the tools and foundations to grow and succeed in the classroom. Her advice for how to get further in your early education career? If you have a desire to do more around your center, have a conservation with your Director and they may be able to assist and give you new experiences!

Ellie’s Academy strives to be a home away from home for their children. They treat everyone like family and keep in touch for years after a child graduates.

Building that personal connection sets us apart. Educators address the parents by their first names right away as opposed to generically ‘mom’ or ‘dad’

Tirusha Dave

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as a childcare center director

Just shy of two years after opening Ellie’s Academy, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In one week, enrollment went from a full center to 8 children in the whole building. They had to put together a shift schedule to split the work between the team.

Tirusha applied to remain open as an emergency childcare center to serve the children of front-line workers. She made this decision as a team to support many of their parents that were essential workers. They did not know how many children they would get, but all of a sudden the phones started ringing off the hook from front-line workers whose childcare centers had closed. They soon worked their way back up to full capacity.

Working through the pandemic brought a lot of changes they did not anticipate happening such as contactless pick-up and drop-off. Children who are used to consistent routines had to deal with constant change. They had to re-establish connections and reassure children that everything was going to be okay.

They still do not have families coming into the building for drop-off and pick-up. It has actually been more efficient and a positive outcome of the new policies. They have also implemented shoe changing to control the environment and any germs coming into the building.

Listen to the full episode for free below!

Podcast episode transcript

Tirusha DAVE:

It was kind of about reestablishing connections and creating a sense of security for the child that everything’s going to be okay. Because at the end of the day, I think they’re the most innocent. They’re all of this, right? Like they don’t understand what’s going on.

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Tirusha, Welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

DAVE:

Hey, how are you?

SPREEUWENBERG: 

I’m doing a wonderful today and delighted to have you on our show. To our listeners today, we have with us Tirusha Dave. She is known as the Early Education Entrepreneur. She’s the founder and owner of Ellie’s Academy in New Jersey. It’s really lovely to have you with us today, Tirusha. As always, let’s start off learning a little bit about you and your background.

DAVE:

Sure. It’s great to always be back. Love you guys at HiMama. So, as you said, my name is Tirusha. I am the owner and founder of Ellie’s Academy. We are a childcare center located in the state of New Jersey, with actually two locations. Fingers crossed, my goal is always to grow and expand, so hopefully that’s something in the future. I have been in the field of early ed [education] for about 15 years. Was not my primary professional career when I first got out of college and things like that. But I found a love for working with kids and stuck with it and ran with it. And here I am now.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And what prompted you to start your own childcare program? You said when you went to college, that’s not necessarily what you had in mind. So what was the inspiration for?

DAVE:

No, I actually went to school to get my doctorate in pharmacy, believe it or not. And I studied it almost until the tail end. And when I moved back home to [New] Jersey – I was in in Boston for school at the time – I had taken a part-time job just working in a preschool classroom over summer and just to kind of like make up difference in time during my rotations and stuff.

And I don’t know it. Honestly, there was just something about kids. And I ended up changing my major right at the end – almost at the end – of my program for my doctorate. And my parents were just like, “What, why? Like, why are you doing this?” And I said, “I don’t know. There’s just something about kids.” And I worked in corporate childcare the rest of my career, once I finished with my undergrad degree.

And I still remember till date, it was when I worked at Bright Horizons. And the director at the time, she is my mentor and very, very close and dear friend of mine now. And during the interview process, she asked me, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” And I said to her, “I see myself in your chair, but in less than five years.” And I still remember that conversation, she was like, “Wow, you’re very confident.” I said, “Confident, yes.” I said, “But I know what I want.” I said, “I want to work with kids,” but I said, “I always don’t want to be a classroom teacher, as well, for the rest of my life.”

So, within a year and a half, I got an opportunity to be an assistant director for another school. And she very graciously gave me a reference and said that they would be crazy not to hire me. And from there, I went to being a center director for several years to a corporate district manager for a national franchise. And that’s when I decided, “I think I’ve had a lot of experience and knowledge and understanding of what it takes to run and operate a childcare center. And I’m ready to do it on my own.” So, at the end of 2018, I quit my job and started looking for a location to open up what was soon to become Ellie’s Academy.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Very cool. And curious to know, reflecting back on that conversation, the person who was doing your interview at Bright Horizons said you sounded really confident in what you wanted to do. What did you learn from that, reflecting back on it? Did you have any takeaways about that conversation and what that meant for you?

DAVE:

I still think about that conversation till date. And honestly, like, even now as an owner, when I get a new enrollment, I text her right away. And I said, “Joy, this is because of you. You gave me the push, you gave me the drive and you believed in me to do something else.” And that is something from her, especially, that I have always tried to emulate as a center director / owner, is to drive my team to do more and give them the tools and the foundations to grow.

I know we’re going to talk about professional development a little bit later, but that’s something that she always believed in, is making sure that teachers, whether they’re a floater, they’re an assistant, they’re a lead teacher, always have the tools and the knowledge to succeed in the classroom. And that’s something that I really strive to do.

And I think that was one of the biggest takeaways from that conversation because when I told her that I see myself in her chair, but less than five years, she started to develop me in that aspect. I went from being a lead preschool teacher to also being her office administrator. I started doing tours, enrolling families. I helped her with the reaccreditation for NAEYC [National Association for the Education of Young Children] and NECPA [National Early Childhood Program Accreditation] at that center. And that to me, I have to say, was probably my biggest takeaway, is making sure that when somebody says something, you really kind of hone in on that and do what you can to support that staff member.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, super important for leaders to provide that support. But also, not to take anything away from you, I think equally important, being clear with your managers or leaders around you about what you want.

DAVE:

Yeah, very true. And sometimes I think staff could maybe feel… I don’t want to say the word “intimidated”, but they might be hesitant to say, like, what are their ultimate goals? Or they might have an interest in something but they feel that just because they’re a classroom assistant teacher or they’re a teacher that they can’t do other tasks out of their, quote unquote, scope of work.

And I think it’s about having those transparent conversations and even driving it home, if it’s a teacher listening to this podcast, that if you have an interest in something or you have a desire to do a little bit more, have a conversation with your director or the owner of your center or the administrative team. Because they may think that you’re good for something, but because you’ve never approached them, they may never bring it up with you. And both of you are thinking about the same thing but just because a conversation or an idea was never thrown out there, nobody ever picks up on it and kind of moves forward.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Totally. And yeah, I think it’s just a really important point to nail home because nobody’s a mind reader.

DAVE:

We wear many caps in this field, in this industry. But being a mind reader is definitely not one of them.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, there’s definitely lots of mentors and people to support you out there. But you also have to take control of your own destiny and what you want, too, is also important. Speaking of which, you’ve started Ellie’s Academy. Tell us a little bit more about it. What is unique about it, whether that be about how you run the programs administratively or from an education perspective or all of the above?

DAVE:

Gosh, that’s always such a hard question to answer because sometimes I feel like, as an outsider looking in at Ellie’s Academy, I personally don’t feel that we do a lot of large things that truly set us apart from one another, quote-unquote. But I think when I talk to families, it’s a lot of the little things that we do that truly make a difference and really drive home with the parents.

I have a child, for example, who’s in our pre-K classroom. And he’s been with us since I’ve started Ellie’s and he was a toddler. And [his] mom says this one thing in every mom group or if she’s talking to somebody. She always says, “Ellie’s Academy is my child’s home away from home.” And I think that is truly the one thing that makes us unique from everyone else is, yes, we are a childcare center, we are a business. I make that obviously evident with our families when it comes to certain things like tuition being due and administrative policies and procedures.

But being called your child’s home away from home means that we also treat everybody like family. If our parents are going through something and it’s a hard time, we do the best that we can to support them, whether it’s just lending an ear at pick-up or drop-off time and listening, or making sure their child is okay, or sending those extra couple of pictures on the first day of school so that mom, who was hysterically crying at drop-off, knows that her baby is in really good hands, that’s really what it is.

I have an infant that started a couple of months ago. And mom will send me pictures on Instagram over the weekend. And she’s like, “Hi Ms. Tirusha, I miss you,” as if the baby’s saying it. And, “Send this picture to my grandma, Ms. Osma,” because that’s what she calls the infant teacher. Like, “She’s my grandma.” And to me, that’s such a warm feeling because that in itself embodies that there’s trust, there’s care, there’s a connection with the families.

I’m not going to lie, I mean, last year when my kindergarten class graduated, I was bawling tears when I was hugging this one child Andy on his last day before he went to public school. Because even though he was with us for such a short period of time, he had only started with us just before kindergarten, during the pandemic He was there for summer and kindergarten of last year. But he just became so close to us.

And the parents told me later on the drive home on his last day of school, he was like, “Why was Ms. Tirusha crying when she hugged me when I left?” And the dad was like, “Well, Ms. Tirusha is crying because you’re not going to be going back to Ellie’s Academy anymore. You’re going to first grade.” And in that moment, it hit the kid that he’s not coming here anymore. And then he started crying on the drive home.

And I was like… again, I’m just also a female and emotional. So again, when the parent told me that, I was crying again. But I was like, it’s those little things that truly set us apart. And I think that that’s something that kind of also maybe drives with my personality because I have a lot of families that when I started teaching five, ten years ago, I still keep in touch with the families. And there are still little anecdotal stories that the kids remember from when I used to be with them as a teacher, or even the director of the school. And I think it’s that personal connection, truly, that I guess sets us apart, if that’s even something that you want to say.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, absolutely. Those personal relationships you develop are a real. And I think it says a lot that you stay in touch with folks even once they graduate beyond Ellie’s Academy. And I’m sure the families and the children in particular really appreciate that, as well.

DAVE:

I think it kind of just transcends with communication and stuff. Like, I always drive home, whether it’s with my team here at Ellie’s or if there was any center that I worked at prior, it’s, again, building that personal connection. So, a lot of times I’ve walked into centers and teachers will address the parents is “Mom and Dad”. To me, that’s extremely generic. I make it a point, even when I used to work as a director for other centers, within the first week’s time or the first two weeks, get to know each child’s parents’ first names. Last names, they’ll come over time. But when you address somebody as “Ron”, for example, versus “Dad”, it just makes such a deeper impact. And that’s something that I’ve always strived at Ellie’s, too. Like, always address the parent by their name. Make that connection with them, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah. And so you’re an owner of a childcare program. And we don’t get to talk to owners all the time on the Preschool Podcast. And of course, there’s been some tough times over the last couple of years. So, I was just thinking, maybe this is an opportune time just to reflect back over the last couple of years. And we’d be curious to hear a little bit from you in terms of how you all adapted to the pandemic. And also, was there any positives coming out of that and things that were maybe more lasting in Ellie’s Academy, now that we’re in a different part of this pandemic? And I will go so far as to say we’re out of it but hopefully the worst is behind us. But curious to hear your thoughts there.

DAVE:

So, Ellie’s Academy is still a baby. This January was three years since I’ve had Ellie’s. And two out of those three years have been in the pandemic, believe it or not. And it’s really crazy to say that I’ve spent most of my professional career with Ellie’s Academy working through a pandemic. I mean, had you told me when I opened up the doors to the school in January of 2019 that I would be dealing with this, I would have been like, “Yeah, okay, sure. Pandemic? Okay, we’ve got this.”

I don’t know, honestly, how we survived it – it was tough. In March of 2020, I think there started to be a lot of these talks about, “Oh, Covid, virus.” But not a lot of chatter was still happening because it hadn’t really… I don’t want to use the word “emerged”, but it wasn’t as bad on the East Coast – or at least the Tri State Area, yet – in early March. And then Governor Murphy announced the public health emergency and people just stopped bringing their kids to school.

I went one week from a full center… and mind you, my capacity is not very large at this location – in particular, 60 kids. And I went from having literally capacity to, within, days, 8 kids in the building. And I’m like, “What’s going on here? Why is nobody bringing their child to school? Okay, this is obviously something that’s very serious. How do we navigate this?”

So, the first thing I decided with my staff is, “Well, we can’t have 12 people in the building for 8 kids.” So, it was kind of like putting together a shift schedule. Some teachers would come in and open, they would work half the day and then the rest of the teachers would come in in the afternoon and then kind of close out the building. So, it was just kind of us, first of all, starting with small tweaks like that. And then they started shutting everything down in Jersey and we’re like, “Okay, this is getting really serious.” And childcare centers just started closing because nobody was bringing their child in.

And then Governor Murphy had announced an executive order that if we applied to stay open as an emergency childcare center, then we would be given the authorization to continue operating. But we could only serve the children of those that were considered, quote-unquote, “frontline and essential working parents”. So basically, at that point, it was literally only health care workers, police officers, firefighters, things like that, the people that were mandated essential and were still going into work.

So, I sat down with the team because I obviously didn’t want to make an ultimate decision on my own. And they were like, “Well, of course we have to stay open. We have Charlotte’s mom, for example, who is a nurse.” At that time Ulysses was there, his dad’s a police officer. We had a lot of parents that were considered essential that had to go into work. So, we applied to stay open and we were given what was considered an emergency childcare center [title]. So, we were allowed to open and remain open.

Again, we didn’t really know how many kids we were going to get because we were kind of dwindling between 8 to 10 kids on any given day. And then suddenly the phone just started ringing: “I’m a nurse at Robert Wood; I’m a police officer here; I’m a nurse in Newark. My childcare centers not open. I was given a list, your name is on the list. Can my child come to you?” And we just suddenly started getting all these “essential children”, I guess you would call them, because their parents were considered “essential” who needed care because these parents couldn’t stop working.

And slowly we went from 8 kids to maybe 15 to 20 to 30 to, literally at the start of our summer camp program 2020, we were at full capacity in what was considered “full capacity” in the eyes of the state because they also reduced our group sizes over time. So, if a center had a room that was licensed for 12, they said you could not have more than 10 children, for example, in the room. So, we were enrolling, but we also had to make sure that we were not also over-enrolling.

I feel like just working through the entire pandemic just brought about a lot of changes that we didn’t see happening. Typically, in any given childcare center, when the parents come and bring their kid, they would either scan a key fob to get entry into the building or put in a four-digit code or something like that. And they would come in, go to the classroom, drop off their kid, go inside, have a conversation with the teacher.

All of that stopped. People were no longer allowed inside the center unless they were a staff member, a child or emergency personnel, like if the fire department or somebody had to come. So, suddenly it was a drastic change. Consider in the eyes of an infant or a toddler where they’re so used to a consistent routine, where Mom or Dad or whoever it was that was dropping them off, gives them hugs, kisses, all of that now has to happen in like a front vestibule lobby area.

Change is really hard, especially as an adult. So, imagine it from the perspective of a two- or a three-year-old. All of a sudden, like, Mommy can’t come or Grandma can’t come to the classroom and drop me off. So, it was kind of about reestablishing connections and creating a sense of security for the child that everything’s going to be okay. Because at the end of the day, I think they’re the most innocent. They’re all of us, right? Like, they don’t understand what’s going on.

So, that was a huge change. And till date, we still are not having the families come into the building to drop off their children. It’s a routine that kind of works and everybody is okay with it. And we’re like, “Okay, why fix something that’s not working? It’s actually made the entire pick-up and drop-off process more efficient, believe it or not. Because the parents come, we still take their temperature, we bring the child in and take them straight to the classroom.

And it’s kind of made the mornings and the evenings actually very, very smooth. When parents are about 10 minutes away, they give us a call at the center. They’re like, “Hey, I’m on my way to pick up so-and-so.” By the time they pull up in their parking lot and they’re waiting outside, their child is ready for them to go. So, it’s nice because a lot of times parents are like, “Go, go, go,” because they’re in a rush because they got to go to the grocery store or go do some other errands. So, I guess that’s been like a really good thing that’s worked.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, it sounds like there’s almost like some operational benefits and efficiencies that have come out of… there’s like this forced, contactless kind of environment that’s had us do things that are really creative.

DAVE:

Yeah, it has been. And, knock on wood, I’m not trying to jinx ourselves, but we haven’t had a single closure due to Covid in either of my locations. And I don’t know if that’s just because I’ve been extremely neurotic with the cleaning and the sanitizing, but that’s something that we always did on a daily basis. It’s a childcare center – kids sneeze, there’s germs, things like that. So, cleaning has always been a huge thing in a childcare center in general.

But we did like little things here and there throughout the pandemic to kind of, I don’t know, “minimize”, quote-unquote. You said the whole contactless thing with the drop-off and the pick-ups. One of the things we also did is we had the children change their shoes before they come into the building. So, if you think about it, you go out into a public forum, maybe like a grocery store and you use the restroom. Walk into a park – like, you don’t know what kind of germs you’re tracking on the bottom of your shoes.

And if you think about it, the kids wear those shoes in the classroom. They’re walking all over the carpets; they’re touching things with their hands, touching their faces; especially little ones, putting their fingers in their mouth. So, we chose to implement shoe changing at both of our schools. And I told the parents, “Statistically, I can’t sit here and tell you how well it works, if it even works. But it’s my way of controlling the environments and the germs that are being tracked into the building.”

And I don’t know, maybe that could be part of the reason why I haven’t had a single shut down or a closure or massive Covid outbreaks because we’ve done little things like that. Probably jinxing myself by saying that now, but it’s the reason that parents felt safe bringing their kids here. One of the really cool things is, last year, we were actually awarded Emergency Childcare Center of the Year by NJAEYC [New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children], which is our state organization for NAEYC. That just felt like a really cool way of being recognized that we provided this sense of continuity and consistency for families, not just in the Somerville and neighboring areas but in the state of New Jersey, as well.

We had parents that were coming to us as far as Newark, which is like a good 30 to 40 minute drive based on traffic, and coming out of their way because Ellie’s Academy was open. They saw us on the news that we were open; we were featured on MSNBC, CBS News New York, interviewed by USA Today, just for all of the safety precautions and things like that that we were doing. So, it’s kind of that little validation that, yes, this is a very safe place for your child to be.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Very cool. And speaking of awards and recognition, I understand you just completed your MBA, so congratulations on that. And I wanted to ask you about that. What inspired you to go do an MBA? And do you think it’s something that other directors or owners of childcare programs could benefit from?

DAVE:

So, I’m going to be really honest: An MBA was never, I want to say, 100% part of the plan. I love to learn, whether it’s going to an AC conference or joining webinars, things like that. I’m always about furthering your knowledge. Just like any industry, I feel like the field of early-childhood education is continuously changing, as well. And especially with the pandemic, there are a lot of nuances. An emphasis on technology – a lot of centers were doing, like, remote circle time and things like that.

So, I feel that this is also a very constantly changing industry. But from an owner and owner-director perspective, I felt that it was really important for me to go back to school and get my MBA because I didn’t have that solid business background. When I was a center director in one of my very first positions, I was handed a PML [probable maximum loss] and I was just like, “What is this?” I didn’t know how to read budgets. I didn’t even know that budgeting was something that a director had to be responsible for.

And then as I grew in my position of being a director throughout different centers and then ultimately becoming a corporate district manager, I was looking at annual budgets, monthly budgets, profit-and-loss statements and kind of understanding that it’s not just about collecting your tuition on the first of the month. There is an inflow of cash, there’s an outflow of cash. You just can’t take the center credit card and just keep buying every single thing that you want from Amazon or Michael’s because you have to make sure that it’s within a budget.

And I decided that going back to school and getting my MBA would kind of give me that solid footing and grounding from a business perspective that I didn’t have. All of my classes were centered around finance, accounting, marketing. I even took a couple of HR [human resources] management classes as well because, let’s be honest, not even as an owner, but when you’re a center director, you do have to tackle certain things like this.

We may not think that we wear the cap of being an HR representative at the end of the day. But if there’s a dispute between two staff members or a parent is upset with something that a teacher said or vice versa, suddenly you are wearing a cap of being an HR person because you have to pacify both parties and you have to make sure that things are handled in a professional and appropriate manner.

The other big thing is, you asked if doing something like this would be beneficial – 100%, if you are an owner who has early education experience but you are not familiar with anything from a business perspective. Maybe not diving into an MBA program right away, but I would highly suggest you try to take some online courses through a local community college or another type of professional organization because it does help you. Even if you are a small center, you’re not licensed for 100, 200 kids, but you have a decent amount, it’s very important because you need to look at the entire business in totality. Like I said before, there’s an inflow of cash and an outflow of cash.

For example, let’s use the pandemic as a great example. I went from full capacity to 10 kids in the building at one point. When I’m at full capacity, I am getting X amount of dollars in revenue just on tuition. That revenue, some of it might cover my rent, might cover my payroll expenses. But then you have everything: you have phone, you have internet, you have classroom supply budgets. There’s a lot of outflow of expenses that come by.

So, then when I go from full capacity to 10 kids in the building, let’s say those 10 kids is a mixture of both full- and part-time. Your revenue has just drastically changed, but yet a lot of your outflow expenses, such as insurance, rent, are still going to stay the same because your rent isn’t going to change month-to-month based on your enrollments. At the end of the day, the landlord still has their own overheads and expenses. So, they’re still going to expect their rent from you on the first of the month.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

That’s for sure. That doesn’t change, right?

DAVE:

No, it doesn’t. And I have to give a plug to my landlord, though, because he was just so kind throughout the entire pandemic. There was at one point, I told him, “I don’t know when I’m going to give you rent.” And he just looked at me and he said, “You know what, kiddo? I know you’re good for it. When you can pay me rent, just pay me.” And I shared this story with other friends that I have that are owners, and they’re like, “You’re kidding me.” I said, “I don’t know, I think there’s just somebody that’s been looking over me throughout this entire pandemic because I’ve had it pretty nice.”

I don’t know, again, if it’s just the communication or how we communicated things to families. I had families that paid tuition even though they weren’t coming to the school during the pandemic because they were unsure of what was happening. But they contributed something because I said, “My building is still open. I still have to pay my staff, I still have to pay my rent.” So, I think it all comes back down to the communication aspect, as well.

I think those were some of the positive outcomes, if you can even label those as positive outcomes. Because unfortunately, a lot of centers did struggle; a lot of them did shut down. But I think we just remained extremely optimistic about everything that was happening. And we still are.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, wonderful. As we wrap up, a couple of final questions for you. One is around professional development: Any resources that you can share with our audience for their own learning and development?

DAVE:

Yes. So, me personally, even though my center is not AC accredited yet, I’ve always tried to go to the NAEYC conferences. They have their annual conference and then they always have the Professional Learning Institute, which I really enjoy going to. From an online perspective, there are two sources that I really like. One is the Childcare Education Institute, where they have a lot of PD courses and things like that that you can do.

And then honestly, I have no shame in saying this, HiMama. Especially with the new rollout that you guys have had with the trainings, especially now that there’s a lot of stuff for the state of New Jersey, specifically for us, that’s relatable, I think that that’s a great avenue and a great outlet of PD and training and just learning for everybody on every level, whether they are a full-time teacher, assistant teacher or a center director.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool. Yeah, we’ve been putting quite a bit of work into our new HiMama Academy product for professional development that has lots of great learning opportunities, so I appreciate that shoutout. And last but not least, where can people go to get in touch with you, Tirusha, or learn more about your work or about Ellie’s Academy?

DAVE:

I have my website, but I got to be really honest, there’s not a lot on there. I am hoping to build more content on there, but my website is www.TirushaDave.com. But honestly, I’m super active on Facebook and Instagram. And my @ [social media handle] is @TheEarlyEdEntrepreneur.

Even the last time I did a HiMama podcast, I think it was actually during the pandemic, I had a lot of people reach out to me. They were like, “How did you do this? How did you do that?” I’m super approachable. If anybody has a question, just feel free to reach out to me. I love just connecting with other people in general. When you guys had the big HiMama Saturday morning academy training, it was just really cool. Me and a bunch of center directors, we connected over LinkedIn and in Jersey and we had some coffee meet-ups and just talked about what’s going on. “What can we do to advocate for early-childhood educators? What can we do to make our center experiences better?”

And you may be struggling with something. I could have a fresh take on something or I might bring up something in conversation with somebody that’s listening to this podcast that I didn’t think about. And they could be giving me a fresh perspective or an idea on something. And I think it’s just about leveraging our connections. I think some people are just scared sometimes. I have some friends that are directors and I say, “Just call called the other center in your area.” And they’re like, “No, it’s competition and we can’t ask others for help or advice.” And I said, “Yes, you can, because who’s going to know it better than somebody else who’s in your shoes?”

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s great advice. You’re all going through the same things, and in fact there’s only a few people who know what you all are going through. So, being able to talk to those people directly is invaluable. And I can speak from for myself, as well, from that perspective. So, that’s some great advice coming from Tirusha there. And great to catch up with you. Obviously, lots going on with Ellie’s Academy over there in New Jersey. Always great to chat with you!

DAVE:

Likewise, as well. Thank you so much for having me!

Christie White

Christie is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at HiMama. She is passionate about children's development, parenting, and supporting the child care industry. She has been working to support child care centers with their events and marketing for almost a decade. In her personal life, Christie lives in Stouffville, ON with her husband Kyle and dog Tucker. She enjoys going for walks, baking, cooking, and watching reality tv!

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