Professional Development

Danen Busch

Site Director

Photo Strip

When Danen was younger, she never would have guessed that she would be in the early childhood field. That’s because before she started working with families, children and teachers as a Site Director for Villa Montessori School, Danen was a practicing engineer in general construction. It was not until her son was born that she really started thinking about early childhood education.

Her engineering background proved to be useful to her in her position as both a teacher and as a site director, though. As she puts it, there were always many things happening simultaneously on the worksite, and everything was interrelated. The same can be said for a classroom or a school.

Danen has an Industrial engineering degree with a business administration minor. She also has her American Montessori Teaching Credential and her National Director Credential through the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. Today, she does not just teach children, she also helps train teachers throughout the Quad Cities and the greater Midwest area.


Video Interview


Interview Q&A

What do you love about your job?

I love working with children because you can really feel like you’re changing the future. 80% of brain development happens before age 3 and 90% by age 5. So being able to understand the greatness of the impact that you’re making on who that future child will become is something I can’t even put words to—it’s absolutely incredible.


What are the biggest challenges early childhood education will face in the coming years?

One of the biggest challenges we face is the perception of early childhood education. There’s still this stigma around it—that it’s daycare and babysitting. Our head of school likes to say we don’t care for days and we don’t sit on babies. It’s really a professional field. There’s a lot of research and education that goes into training teachers in a high quality setting, and it’s really hard to break the perception that children don’t start learning until kindergarten, when in reality, 90% of brain development is done before kindergarten.


Why should anyone consider this field as a profession?

You get to change the future. You can’t change the future more than you can by working with young children. You never know who’s going to be the next president or the next founder of Google or who’s going to cure cancer! By giving children the best start possible, you really can make a huge impact on your community and on the world in general.


What do you want the community to know about the importance of the early childhood profession in the community at large?

If you really want to change your community, we really have to start with the youngest of children. You can start at infancy. You can start in utero. Children start learning language 3 months post conception, so you can really have an impact on what our future community will be like investing in and making good high quality education choices for children so they have the best start possible.


If you were going to encourage someone to choose this field, what would you say?

When thinking about the legacy I want to leave for myself, my son, and the children in the community I get to work in, I really want them to know how important early childhood is, how big of a difference it makes, and how personally rewarding it is. You don’t ever leave for home upset about how your day went no matter what kind of behaviors you work through, there are always so many positives that happen throughout the day. It’s an honor and a gift to be a part of so many children’s lives and so many families lives because we get to have an impact on what that person will be in the future.


What traits and training do you feel are important for working with young children?

The training that has been most beneficial for me is honestly my engineering background. Coming from a job site with hundreds of different skilled carpenters, laborers, iron workers, and different people with different areas of expertise and interests, and so many pieces happening simultaneously really helped me in my position both as a teacher and as a site director. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything is interrelated. So being able to navigate all those moving parts and understanding the relationship to the whole really helped me more than anything.