It’s people like Melanie Scrivner who changes lives – one child and one family at a time. Working with Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs she believes in their vision to have every child be ready for kindergarten. Many families in our community are challenged by limited finances, food insecurity, difficult living situations and scant resources. With the aid of Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) children receive the special attention in preschool they need to be successful, not just in grade school, but also in life. Scrivner encourages others who are interested in improving the long-term well-being of our youth to explore teaching options.
“Every day I walk in this door and I see all these kids and I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” said Scrivner, who has been an early learning teacher for seven years. A military spouse, Scrivner explained that skills necessary for the challenges of that life translate well to her career in education. “I know what it’s like to be part of a community. I have the ability to multi-task and to be flexible.” When working with young children, these are valuable tools. The extra income was also helpful.
Another employee benefit Scrivner took advantage of was earning her AA from South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Early Childhood Education. The cost for school was covered and she is closing in on getting her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with an endorsement for trauma support education. The financial assistance from her work made a huge difference in her ability to achieve her goals. Regular professional development is also part of the employment package.
Sound to Harbor serves Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties with 16 learning centers. The large complex on the SPSCC campus serves over 800 children throughout the year. There is a continuing need for talented teachers and teaching assistants. The Early Learning Center is hiring teachers who want to become part of a committed team. Scrivner first became a TA (Teaching Assistant) and then a teacher. The work fit well with her military life and experience as well as her life-long involvement with helping others. When she was 18-years-old she worked with a family who fostered children with extra needs. Later, Scrivner provided respite care for her neighbor, also a military family. Working with their 4-year-old son solidified her belief that proper attention given to youngsters has long lasting, positive implications.
The early learning centers provides an impressive level of services, not only for the students, but for the families as well. People are apprised of the many and varied social services in the area. Then they are assisted to make connections for help with housing, medical needs, legal advocacy, nutrition support and so much more. Scrivner loves working with the children but also sees that working with the whole family is essential to the ongoing heath and success of everyone.
Angela Kallas, center director, also explained the depth of services for the teachers. There are behavioral specialists to identify specific avenues for helping individual students and teacher coaches to help implement the plans. Kallas noted that their team is quickly up-to-date on best practices in teaching.
The preschool and childcare options have been structured to fill the varied needs of parents. There are half-day programs in the mornings and afternoons. These are three-and-a-half hour sessions. The school-day option for some Head Start students is a daily program for six-and-a-half hours. There is also an ECEAP wrap-around program with preschool and then daycare before or after school. Interviews with incoming families will determine the best option for them.
We live in a time when people wonder, “How can I make a difference?” Here is one answer that profoundly affects you and your community. Be an early education teacher. Military spouses bring a set of skills that interface well with spending time with active youth. Retirees also have years of varied experiences to offer. Scrivner loves her job for many reasons. Every day offers something new. She values the strong connections she makes with the children and families that participate. “I have the ability to make a difference,” she smiled and added, “I see them leave at the end of the year and I know they are ready and prepared.” That’s a big deal! And there are times when you get to play with toys.
South Puget Sound Community College
Sound to Harbor Early Learning Center
2011 Mottman Road SW, Building 20, Olympia