Institute Blog
Issues facing Directors and Program Leaders

Issues facing Directors and Program Leaders

by Sarah Felstiner, Curriculum Director, Hilltop Children’s Center

Following last week’s Evening Discussion Series event (pictured above, and below) that featured John Nimmo and Debbie LeeKeenan, Hilltop hosted an informal lunch for Seattle-area Directors and Program Leaders. Facilitated by John and Debbie, the intention of this lunch was to hear from administrators at a variety of programs and agencies about their work. Debbie LeeKeenan is in the process of writing a new book for NAEYC that will offer some guidance and advice to new directors of ECE programs. She facilitated a discussion among this group of Seattle program leaders, to help shape the topics she’ll address in her forthcoming book.

It was fascinating to sit with a room full of people – some seasoned and some newer to the field – who are responsible for leading and stewarding early childhood programs in our area. And it was interesting to hear about their satisfactions and challenges, particularly in light of the range of programs they support, and the communities of children and families they serve. Below are a few of the comments that these program leaders shared.

What is the joy in being a director?

  • there’s never a dull moment – so much to learn
  • forming deep relationships, building community
  • ability to make positive change
  • creating systems and behind-the-scenes supports
  • opening doors for faculty, and then getting out of the way
  • hearing and supporting family “voices” in the program
  • supporting growth in staff, and seeing them take leadership

What have been your biggest challenges?

  • standardization of programming
  • managing and navigating regulations
  • over-assessment of children
  • the issue of time, and capacity
  • being on a constant learning curve
  • managing conflict, and supporting others to manage conflict
  • substitutes! staffing is a challenge every day
  • getting away from my own program and connecting with others

All of the attendees at the Directors’ Lunch agreed that it felt useful and supportive to have the chance to discuss these issues with others who do similar work. This is very much the intention of all of the Hilltop Educator Institute programming: that we can foster dialogue and collaboration among colleagues in the field of Early Childhood Education.

The next event in Hilltop’s Evening Discussion Series is particularly designed with that purpose in mind. On Thursday, May 12th we’re hosting a community discussion on the topic “Is Play an Equity Issue?” We will be reviewing points in Michael Gramling’s new book, The Great Disconnect, and hear what local educators working in publicly funded programs are doing to counter the opportunity gap. This discussion will be moderated by Margie Carter, and will feature respondents from a range of programs around Seattle.

Please register here if you would like to join us for this discussion, either in person or remotely via webinar.

EDS 3-31-16b

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Sarah Felstiner is the Curriculum Director at Hilltop Children’s Center, where she has worked since 1995.[/author_info] [/author]