Submitted by: Jack Safer, Chief Operating Officer, Brightside Academy, Inc.

Most young parents look forward to the first day of kindergarten with expectation. Some may be unaware that the ages of 0-5 are the most crucial for early learning according to many studies focusing on children’s success in school and beyond. Early childhood educators are tasked with the rewarding yet challenging role of teaching young children. With high ECE turnover rates across the industry, this leads us to ponder how we can better support and engage early educators to make their career journey a more fulfilling and purposeful one.

There is much we can do to support early childhood teachers. Providing career training and assistance in achieving their educational milestones is fundamental. To that end Brightside Academy recently developed a CDA program to encourage and support current teaching staff in obtaining their CDAs with step by step guidance from senior staff. So far over 50+ graduates have completed this milestone. Their satisfaction and joy in having earned their credits while immersed in ECE roles daily is evident.

National research efforts indicate that people perform better at work when they lead healthy lifestyles and pursue interests outside the workplace. Beyond providing support in education for ECE teachers, employers should strive to offer benefits that allow a work / life balance along with health improvement initiatives. Encouraging partnerships with local organizations to keep staff active and involved in their communities is just as important.

Finally, we need to look at incentives and wage parity which would acknowledge staff directly for what they do and continuously provide to them a clear purpose that goes beyond merely fulfilling job duties. Throughout the years at Brightside Academy, we have developed initiatives to reward staff individually and as a team in areas such as providing amazing customer service and enhancing classroom experiences. Teachers aspire to be recognized, and rightfully so, for the impact they are making every day.

Careers in ECE are extremely rewarding but can also be challenging. We can keep teachers engaged by encouraging an open dialog, giving them satisfaction through a sense of purpose, empowering them through acknowledgment and recognition, and coaching them to become the highlight in every child’s early education journey.

As an orgazational leader, I try to instill thought provoking tidbits in the minds of our staff, especially our senior level leadership. Whether it’s a catchy phrase, an ambitious anecdote, slogan or valuable lesson, these subtle but thought provoking words will give the staff something to revert back to when in need of an enthusiasm boost.

With that, I leave you with a phrase of which keeps me going each day; “It all works out in the end, if it hasn’t yet, it’s not the end”….