Monday, April 1, 2024

Early Childhood Education - A Calling

Reflections on Early Career Choices 

Originally published on Monday, May 16, 2016, at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

I have had opportunities to work for many types of schools in the field of Early Childhood Education over the past 20 + years.  Child Development has always my passion when it comes to a career choice.  I was fortunate enough to have amazing mentors during my very early years in this field and owe much of my continued interest in quality childcare to these individuals.  

My first experience in a "day care" setting was way back when I was eighteen years old and fresh off the Pan Am Jumbo Jet in Heidelberg, Germany. My first boss was Denise Flowers, who was kind and guided me through some rough moments as I learned the ropes as a Part Time Caregiver working with Infants and Toddlers. On the Army Military base at Patrick Henry Village there was a section of a billeting building that had been converted for childcare. I eventually moved up to working full time while I attended University of Maryland - European Division in the evenings and on weekends.  I was sometimes asked to help out at other locations, and I gladly boarded the military bus to go across town to help before attending evening classes. I couldn't get enough hours! I love working and learning about child development. 

The next director I worked with was Stephanie Morales. She had this amazing energy that was frenetic, sometimes frustrating, but very passionate about her role in providing quality childcare for the children of military service members.  We butted heads a couple of times, but I learned about management from her.  I learned that staffing needs are a dynamic process, and it is important to really get to know each person who works with you...that includes their strengths and where training challenges should be addressed. I learned that the hard way. I also learned about recycling.  One day we were driving through Kirchheim, a town with some narrow streets. We stopped at a red light right behind a Mercedes Garbage truck. There were several perfectly intact boxes sticking out of the open back. She got out of the car and had no hesitation going up to the gentlemen on the back of the truck to ask for those boxes to use at school. I will never forget her willingness to go the extra mile to commandeer supplies for our children.

When we moved to a newly constructed childcare center with a capacity for over 300 children, I was introduced to my new mentor and director for infant/toddler programming, Donna Repaty. I would not be the advocate and child development specialist I am today without her amazing influence and supervision. She was there for me as I worked through my social work degree and completed an internship with 130th station hospital - Exceptional Family Member Services (EFMS), which provided intervention and services for children from birth through eighteen who had medical and developmental needs. It was because of her and the center director, Kris Gingras, that I moved up to Infant/Toddler program director. I cannot thank those strong, incredibly supportive women enough for their guidance and encouragement. Never underestimate the power of mentoring those who are coming up in the field.

Where I am today......

I remember writing the above post, and ironically decided the go through my old posts today as I prepare for one of my assignments. I am now working toward my master's in clinical counseling degree, and this term I am taking Human Growth and Development. Reviewing early childhood concepts and theories reignited my memories from early career choices. I am forever grateful for those early mentors who coached, supervised, redirected, and provided endless encouragement during a critical period in my life. I was not only working and attending college courses, but also entering into early adulthood, with all the complicated nuances of getting my own apartment, figuring out how to be on my own after being in a large family, and being by myself in a foreign country after my father was stationed back stateside. So many warm feelings of appreciation have resurfaced as I revisited this post and reflected on my current employment situation. Wishing all employees had the opportunity to experience the mentorship that shaped my career choices from day one. 

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

 Contact me at for information to schedule
a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
I can also assist with written communication needs.
Rates are negotiable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting I appreciate your time and comments. Kindest Wishes, Mary