Professional Development

Beverly Clark

Director of an Early Learning Center

Photo Strip

When Beverly Clark received her Bachelor Degree in Sociology from Lane College (Jackson, Tennessee), she thought she would go out and “change the world” through social work. Her wish came true, but, as she says, “my path took a different turn.” With two sisters living in the Quad Cities, her family headed north to look for employment. Her husband found work at Deere & Company, and she became an assistant teacher at Skip-A-Long Child Care Center. Eventually she moved on to a home visitor position with Project Now Head Start, advancing to supervisor of the teaching staff. Over several years she gained experience as the Education Coordinator at Davenport Head Start and as director of Rainbow Skip-A-Long.

Receiving her Master of Public Administration from Drake University, she now directs the Aldridge Early Learning Center (East Moline, Illinois), a licensed non-profit child care center for infants through age 12. She helped lead the capitol campaign raising $1 million for construction of a new facility, which opened in 2004.

 

Video Interview

 

Interview Q&A

Why did you select the early childhood field?

I think the field chose me. I actually stumbled into it, and as I became more involved, I realized the importance of my role: as a child’s first and most important teacher. My background in social work made me more aware of the social/emotional aspect in the field of early childhood education and helped me to be more compassionate. I’ve been in child care now for 28 years, and I firmly believe I’ve made a difference in the lives of many children and families.

 

What is your philosophy of teaching?

Each child is unique, and, as teachers, we need to vary our approach to meet each of his or her needs. We all want our children to do magnificent things, but as important as learning the alphabet and how to write are, it’s essential they learn logic and reasoning. We must also nurture their natural talents and interest.

 

Why is quality education so important in a child’s future?

It’s too late for a child if we put off educating them until they’re older. Every parent has to understand that stimulus gets children to the next level as well as a focus on their social/emotional development. I want to see us develop future presidents from this building!

 

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

Every child deserves a quality education, and it will only happen with quality- trained staff. It’s difficult finding good teachers because we pay them what we can afford and not what they deserve. At Aldridge we look for trained teachers with compassion who care about the well-being of children, and those qualities aren’t taught but nurtured over time. By 2016 Aldridge is requiring all our teachers to have a 4-year degree, and the center’s board and management have made it a priority to assist them in attaining it.

 

Why should someone consider the field as a profession?

A couple of generations ago the demand for child care outside the home was insignificant. Parents and family members provided the educational and social/emotional stimulus children need. Now in many homes both parents are employed, and parents welcome the professional early childhood staff to work alongside them in providing for the needs of their children. Individuals should consider this field as a profession when they see and understand the importance of the work we do each day, as we prepare our children for their next stage in life.

 

What are the traits you feel are most important for working with children and their parents?

I can’t over emphasize the importance of compassion. Children are incredibly perceptive and do not respond well to people who aren’t caring, patient and approachable.

 

Why did you decide to participate in the Aim4Excellence program?

It’s always good to get a refresher course and see what resources are available to you, and I especially like meeting with my contemporaries and exchanging ideas. I thought participating was a great experience because it reinforced so many of the things we were already doing as best practices.

 

How do you stay current with all the new research and information?

We go to conferences, provide trainings for our staff, chat with and exchange ideas with other directors as well as subscribe to several online early childhood sites.

 

If you had a recommendation for anyone considering this field, what would it be?

To thine own self be true. Choose as a career the field in which you feel passionate. And if that field is early care and education, you will never view it as just a job.