Thirteen years ago Ké wanted to find the right child care center in Virginia for her son, Duke. Ké, a single parent, wanted her son exposed to as much social interaction with other children as possible. She visited numerous centers, but never found one she felt comfortable with. She saw problems with staff turnover, cleanliness and disorganization at the centers she visited. She ended up hiring her own nanny to watch her son. But through this process, she developed a strong interest in the child care industry.
A few years later Ké and Duke moved to Phoenix, where she was working for McDonald’s. She was about to be promoted to a district manager position – but she decided to make a career change. The job at McDonald’s was time-consuming and she found it difficult to find enough quality time with Duke. Since she always had a passion for working with children, she interviewed and got a job at Bright Horizons Family Solutions Center, a child care center in Tempe. At first she was very overwhelmed working with toddlers – it was a huge learning curve for her. But she had found a new career. Within the year she received the center’s Rising Star Award, an honor given to exemplary employees who have worked for the company for less than six months.
In time she became an assistant director, but she found it a challenge to provide constructive feedback to the staff. Ké enrolled in Southwest Human Development’s Emergent Leaders program for child care center directors, where she learned to be a better communicator and leader. Ké says the center’s employees are more willing to come to her with new ideas now.
The program helped Ké grow in other ways too. She is passionate now about developing high-quality child care teachers; thanks to her efforts, a local high school has a professional development program for students interested in working with infants and toddlers.
Ké graduated from the Emergent Leaders program in May 2011 and her goal is to one day become a center director.
Photos by David Schmidt