During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s story comes from Darlene Manthorpe from Belmont Park Preschool Society.
On Wednesday, April 9, an envelope was delivered to the Camosun College Board of Governors containing over 50 coloured index cards with a child’s drawing on one side and comments from their parent(s) on the opposite side regarding the proposed cuts to the ELC program. Belmont Park Pre-School staff included a cover letter. Our staff and parents will continue to advocate for this important program.
During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s letter comes from Janis Johnson, Coordinator of Peninsula Connections.
April 12, 2014
Dr. Marilyn Pattison, Chair
Board of Governors, Camosun College
Re: Potential Program Cuts to Early Learning and Care Program
Dear Dr. Pattison,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood, the Saanich Peninsula Early Years Table, wishes to express concern and dismay regarding the proposed cuts to the Early Learning and Care Program at Camosun College. This program is the only one available in our region, a region experiencing a crisis in its ability to secure adequate numbers of qualified diploma level graduates to fill the vacancies in our early learning and care facilities. If we are to have quality early childhood programs we need qualified educators, we cannot afford to compromise and reduce that quality of care for our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. We must all advocate on their behalf.
In 2013 the BC Government released its Families Agenda for British Columbia: Building a sustainable quality early years strategy to support BC families. This document focuses on working toward enhanced integration, coordination and development of the early childhood sector. A Provincial Office of the Early Years has recently been established and has indicated that it is preparing to announce the creation of one thousand new childcare spaces in 2015 and thousands of new spaces over the next five years. The early years community in our region is celebrating this positive shift by the government. More than ever we will need access to fully trained Early Childhood Educators. In light of these exciting, desperately needed developments we ask that you please re-consider your plan to reduce the training opportunities for Early Childhood Educators at your College.
Camosun College is an integral part of a shared vision of providing quality education opportunities for those who care for our young children. Both the educators and, through them, the children deserve the best that we can offer. Please re-consider your proposed cuts to this valuable program, re-consider the significance of your role related to the enhancement of learning and care opportunities for young children and maintain the Early Learning and Care program as it currently exists.
Janis Johnson, Coordinator,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood
During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of Advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s story come from Rhonda at Lambrick Park Preschool.
Hello ELC supporters.
Today, the preschool children and educators at Lambrick Park Preschool & Childcare delivered a very special letter to the Chair of the Camosun Board of Governors.
The attachments show the envelope the letter was secured in.
The envelope contained over 35, 17 inch paper eggs that had been marble painted with pastel paint by the children and educators at our preschool and our current Camosun practicum student.
The letter explained that the children had made and given magical eggs to the Board of Governors.The eggs were to help them all remember to listen, cooperate and share because that is what we learn at preschool. The letter explained that working together was awesome because “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”It explained that the children and educators wanted Camosun to keep its 2 year ELC diploma program just as it is now so that it can continue to provide quality educators for our programs, families and children, maintain professionalism in our field and so we can continue to support and be proud of Camosun College.
We asked the Board of Governors to take good care of our beautiful eggs.
We wrote the letter on manilla paper with a purple, grape smelling Mr. Sketch felt.
The children made their own envelope and decorated it with a handmade flower and stickers. The envelope was approximately 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet large.
I was honored to hand deliver the special package to the college this afternoon.
Those of you who are fortunate to spend your day working with small children, we encourage you to ask your children to create some special pieces of art and with their permission, send them to the college next week.
When we all work together, we can create something awesome.(have you seen the Lego movie??!)
Wow, great dialogue started on our Facebook page about professional attire and the ECE. Thank you to all the people who emailed me as well after my post on wardrobes.
Do you know I have been thinking about that post for over a year? I wrote it six months ago and it took me until two weeks ago to muster up the courage to post it. I knew it would spark some intense feelings. I worried about the message and how it would be taken. I sent the post to many trusted colleagues for feedback. I agonized over every word. I almost didn’t post it.
I am glad I did though. I have been pleasantly surprised and excited by the dialogue it has inspired. Even the people who disagreed with me and left comments, I was glad to hear their perspectives. It’s not so much that we agree with each other but that we have the willingness to discuss these issues together. To think together about what our values are and how our programs can reflect those values back to our communities.
The catalyst for this post was my experience subbing last year. Seeing educators who felt like they had been beaten down and looked it too, noticing where the wages were low the professionalism was also low. It didn’t reflect the educator’s passion though. If I asked the right questions I could see that twinkle in their eyes about why they entered the field.
While on holidays I talked to anyone who would listen to my stream of thoughts. In conversation with others I remembered something I heard long ago when I was entering the work force. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Now I have the job I want so what if we shifted that statement to “Dress for the respect/wage you want, not the respect/wage you receive.” To me that’s what it’s about.
I am one of the lucky ones who receive a living wage, have benefits and I feel respected in my workplace. What I want though is for my field to be respected in our society. For it not to be an issue of luck, I want children and families to be first in line for funding and honestly I want Christy Clark/Adrian Dix/Stephen Harper/Justin Trudeau/Thomas Mulcair to say they respect us…… and I want to believe them when they say it.
Somehow a few people believed I was suggesting ece’s needed to be more stylish. Goodness knows the style fairy chooses to skip my house most mornings. There are days where I wish Stacey London and Clinton Kelly would surprise me at a presentation to say they are going to take me shopping in New York city. I find myself wishing for a personal stylist when I am going on the road with Kim (she is the most stylish ECE I know). Style and professionalism are two separate things that can intertwine. I think we all deserve to feel stylish and confident but what I was suggesting was professional and confident.
Professional is different things to different people. To a former student of mine she feels professional when she wears suits, blazers and blouses that don’t show her shoulders, to my mother she feels professional when she looks stylish, a co-worker feels professional when she has the right clothing for the right season (i.e. rain slickers and gumboots for rain) and I feel professional when I dress in clothing that makes me feel like a professional.
I would like to know what professional looks like to you. So I would invite you to send me a photo and a few lines about what looking professional means to you. If you have a blog send me a link to a post about what professional looks like to you. Next month I will do a post sharing your pictures, stories, posts and together we can discuss what professional looks like in Early Childhood Education. Send pictures, links and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
I was raised by a bank executive and a tradesman. Both my parents had two wardrobes, one wardrobe for work and one not for work. My father’s work wardrobe consisted of steel toed boots and coveralls. When he was home he wore jeans, t-shirts and comfortable shoes. My mother’s work wardrobe consisted of suits, skirts, blouses, dress shoes and simple jewellery. When at home she wore pressed pants, casual blouses and pretty shoes.
When I went to work at my first childcare job I followed suit and part of my closet was dedicated to work clothes and the other part of my closet was designated non work clothes. My work wardrobe consists of pressed pants, blouses, skirts, blazers, cardigans and simple jewellery. My other wardrobe consists of jeans, leggings, vintage tees, flip flops and party dresses. I quickly realized this wasn’t how early childhood care and learning professionals worked. Most had one wardrobe clothes that were comfortable, affordable and practical.
I heard many reasons why this was the case. Our wages weren’t high enough to warrant a separate professional wardrobe. We work with paint, bleach and mud why dress up. It’s just easier to come to work in comfortable clothing. All of these reasons sound perfectly legit to me.
Here is where I am conflicted though. I think that what is inside matters most. In the area of caring and educating our youngest members of society, a person’s character and ability to connect with children and families in meaningful ways is more important….. but….. yes there is a but, we are underpaid and we are not given a lot of respect in our communities. Could our lack of a professional image be contributing to that lack of respect?
Last year when I decided to return to the floor after an almost two year break, I put my name out there for subbing. I was immediately hired to work a permanent position at the community centre I am at presently. I was also hired to be a sub in another community centre in the city. At my place of employment you are more likely to see people dressed in professional and practical attire.; skirts, trousers, blouses and cardigans are common place. I am paid a living wage, I have excellent benefits but most importantly it is the most respectful place I have ever worked. I love going to work. After a preschool session one day I headed to the other community centre for my orientation for subbing. During my orientation the childcare coordinator for the centre informed me I was too dressed up for working in child care. I was taken aback by this as I was wearing a simple pair of black trousers and a black cotton button down shirt with ballet flats. I listened though and when I went for my first shift I pulled out my most casual outfit. I wore a pair of denim jeans with the cuffs folded up, a cowl neck sweater and a pair of ballet flats. When I showed up in the daycare I was informed by the manager I was too dressed up. The manager, who told me this was wearing layered tank tops with her bra straps showing, rolled up jogging pants and sneakers with the laces undone. I didn’t last long at subbing. I removed my name off the list. I was paid poorly, there were no benefits and I didn’t feel anyone felt respected there. I have been thinking about my two wardrobes ever since.
“It’s an act of respect for the people you are working with the get dressed up for them.”
Richard Van Camp
I put my best self forward every day for the families, children and colleagues I work with. Part of doing that is making sure I look professional. We are educated women and men who care deeply for children and families. As a field we have a specialized knowledge that needs to be shared with our community. We must advocate for the practices that we believe in. We must articulate why we do what we do.
Now imagine sharing that specialized knowledge and articulating those practices to a parent, a colleague, a community member, a politician, the media or a board member dressed in layered tank tops, an exposed bra, rolled up jogging pants and undone sneakers.
Last night while watching What Not to Wear(Kim and I love this show, it’s what we watch when we are sharing hotel rooms), the host Clinton Kelly said something about appearances. What he said paralleled conversations Kim and I have had about values of our programs. It went something like this “Your clothes don’t define you, but they say something about you and are they saying what you want them to say?” When I go to work it is my goal that my wardrobe says I take pride in what I do, I care about myself and your family and I am a professional.
My professional wardrobe is always practical; fabrics are usually stretchy, washable and durable. Shoes are comfortable and more often than not flat. I do wear jeans to work but they are usually a more professional cut and they always always have Lycra in them. My wardrobe is purchased with a budget in mind, I never buy something I would be sad to see a finger paint stain on. Therefor sales racks are my best friend. I do invest in key pieces, a good pair of boots, comfortable shoes and a good warm jacket. I do have a personal style and I try to incorporate that as well.
I am not suggesting that we go to work with suits on. I don’t want to see our profession in a uniform either. What I am suggesting is that we honour the children, the families and the work we do when we put our best selves forward.
Here is another thing I remember about my parents two wardrobes. When they came home they changed. They got comfortable. To me it always seemed like a symbolic way of saying goodbye to one part of your day and getting comfortable with the next. In a profession that is grounded in nurturing and compassion sometimes we need a little symbolic divide between our professional and personal lives.