Child care and early years professionals are a precious commodity and essential part of happy, healthy, and successful communities. Now, more than ever,we know how important it is to have caring adults supporting young children and families.
We are so proud to be a part of this vibrant community and this Professional Spotlight Series recognizes the outstanding efforts, innovations, and contributions of our treasured colleagues across the sector.
We are delighted to introduce you to Jackie Anger, RECE and a Director of School Age Child Care. Jackie is a dynamic leader whose passion and dedication to the profession, her colleagues, and children and families are undeniable. Jackie leads from the heart, and it shows.
Keep reading to learn more about Jackie!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m Jackie Anger. I proudly live and work in Elgin County. I am the Director of School Age Child Care the YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin. I have two children: Andrew (7) and Arden (2). I’ve been lucky enough to experience the benefits of both home child care, and centre-based care for my children. Both have been wonderful and supportive in their own ways.
I’ve been with the YWCA since 2007 (mostly!), and have been in this role since 2018. I have always worked with children and youth in various ways including in supporting mentoring programs for children, working as a residential counsellor in mental health treatment facilities, employment projects, or working with young people who have experiences as crown wards. Very proudly, I completed my ECE Fast-Track, Accelerated Diploma in April, and graduated with honours.
In my work, I’m super passionate about promoting mental health in our programs, for both children and our Educators.
I love milk chocolate and dark coffee and my favourite food is toasted marshmallows.
What led you to a career in Early Childhood Education and Care?
I love building teams and collaboration, as well as supporting children and families. This career is the perfect fit for me. I always knew I wanted to work with children. I worked at our small local library growing up and on our children’s programming nights I was able to connect with children through literacy.
What is the best part of your role?
I love seeing AH HA moments when an idea connects with our Educators that brings them closer to the children in their program. I love it when I get to shout “THIS IS COMMUNITY!” when we gain traction on a concept with families, schools, or operators. I love being the lighthouse that helps folks find their own way in their practice.
I am THRILLED to share with you why Jackie is a special person to work with and a special childcare professional. There is so much!
Jackie puts everyone before herself, including children, families, staff, and colleagues. Her work is child-led, and people-led. She leads with her heart and that is so important, especially in times like these.
Jackie pays a close eye to mental health, the effects Covid-19 may be having on those around her, and always checks in on how people are feeling. If you tell Jackie something important is going on in your life, like a birthday or a camping trip you are excited about, she will REMEMBER and ask you about it! It is truly special to have someone who cares about the little things.
Jackie is a great person to reach out to for support. Just yesterday I said “Jackie, I could use some help problem solving this and organizing my thoughts” and she jumped right in, helping me work through my thoughts, and reassuring me that sometimes you just need another brain! I often reach out to Jackie for support, as she has so much knowledge from her background in both CYC and ECE. Jackie recently graduated from the ECE program as it was important to her to continue learning and growing her knowledge in childcare. Her hard work as a student AND acting director amazes me (she is ALSO a wife and mother!). I believe Jackie’s dedication to knowledge, learning and constantly growing as a professional, even while sitting in the directors’ chair, really shows what makes her a special childcare professional. Jackie always encourages others in their growth as well.
Not only is Jackie kind, and smart, but she is FUN and the most bubbly person I have ever met Being fun and bubbly are very special qualities in a childcare professional. Jackie is the perfect person to go to for a pick-me-up, creative game, or fun idea. She always has funny stories from childcare (like dressing up as a clown to the point where children and staff did not recognize her) and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. I have seen Jackie step back to clean up some paint so another Educator, with the best therapeutic relationship, can jump in and problem solve with a child needing support.
Jackie knows when to step in, and step back. Jackie knows when a child, or staff needs guidance, space, or some love.
Jackie has personally done so much for me. I struggle with my mental health, and this has been a challenge for me through my career. If I ever have a challenging day, Jackie has been a phenomenal support to me. In the past, it has been difficult to disclose or navigate through my illness with my employer. This is absolutely not the case with Jackie. I feel safe, supported, and cared about. I could not ask for anything more from a boss, mentor, and VERY special colleague.
I truly aspire to be a leader as great as Jackie one day. Jackie spends her time shedding the spotlight on others SO often, and I am honored to shed the professional spotlight on her today.
– Tori Howarth, Childcare Coordinator, YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin
What is something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about?
EVERYTHING. Being a new graduate of the ECE program, I feel so pumped to support our Educators with innovative problem-solving opportunities that meets their needs. I have joined a few Communities of Practice locally, as well as regionally through Strive. I love connecting with other folks in like minded ways and it’s truly rocking my world when I am able to bring these ideas back to our organization. Our next move is working on our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy in our Department. This was spurred by a great workshop from Anisha Angella and hosted by Strive.
What is something you’re unlearning?
The pressure of having an answer for everything. I’m leaning into the vulnerability of being a co-learner alongside our staff.
What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education?
Not all heroes wear capes. Childcare Workers and Early Childhood Educators literally keep society’s wheels turning and families afloat. It takes more than just loving kids but you NEED to put that at the core of all you do. I think the pandemic has helped society change their view on how they see childcare professionals. We are not babysitters. We are professional educators and caregivers. We bear witness to children’s emotional, intellectual, psychological development. We are advocates, professional communicators, and hold space for developing humans and their families every day.
Jackie inspires us to learn more and to become more. She is personable, takes the time to get to know her team and embraces them as a whole. As a mental health advocate, she speaks up against the stigma associated with mental health difficulties, and creates a working environment that allows acceptance, cooperation and a sense of togetherness.
Families and Educators at the YWCA St. Thomas Elgin have been positively impacted by her leadership and outstanding knowledge of Early Childhood Education.
Having her as my mentor has been one of the greatest highlights in my professional development. Working alongside her has not only helped me become a better leader but also a better person.
– Maria Guevara, RECE
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
It has changed me profoundly. Loving kids or having leadership skills is not enough to have a sound and round practice. Historical information from my now 16-year-old college diploma was not enough. Constantly growing, evaluating, reflecting, and inquiring has changed my practice to the core. Committing to professional learning has changed my leadership style. It’s re-prioritized our teams’ goals. Through the ECE Program, and the professional learning opportunities I’ve done since, I am a different educator and leader.
Tell us about a recent professional learning experience that had a positive impact on you.
Well…aside from my whole ECE program… I did a workshop on Simple Interactions and I loved that very much. It is a partnership between the Fred Rogers Institute and Harvard University. I loved how day to day simple interactions can set the pace for our children in profound ways. I also recently attended a workshop through Strive with Anisha Angella on diversity. It will deeply impact the next few months of our EDI strategy.
What inspires you?
Our teams here. When our staff present us with a challenge they’re facing, it inspires me to collaborate and want to do better for them and for our children. I love collaborative problem solving. It also inspires me when I see leadership traits in our field from newer staff and they do something to dare greatly. I love the learning continuum.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“We can do hard things!”
~ Glennon Doyle
Jackie is the type of leader who is working towards long-term change and improvement within Early Childhood Education (ECE). She recently completed her ECE diploma to support her growing understanding of professional guidance and legislative documents, so that she can better focus the foundations and directions of her professional work. Jackie is an advocate for Educator mental health through efforts in setting organizational standards for response and support to Educator needs and management response (for example, the acknowledgement that ‘mental health days’ are sick days). She is also currently spearheading an organizational initiative to boost the perception of school-age childcare from a ‘stop in between’ to meaningful programming for children and families.
Jackie dedicates herself to ensuring the Educators she encounters are supported and know they are valued. From reimbursement of CECE registration fees, to reviewing and fine-tuning organizational procedures to reduce workload and support the realistic flow of work and interactions with children and families. Beyond policy and procedure development, Jackie prioritizes, above all else, a mutual respect and support with others. These values extend not only through the team of Educators she works with, but also the families, children, school board official, and community partners she works with. Beyond professional advocacy, Jackie is an ally and a support to count on when in need or when you need a space to think innovatively- or critically.
I count myself as lucky to have her in my corner and she is a large part of the reason I am with the organization that I am with. I predict and can already see that her impact for St. Thomas and Elgin in the long-term will be profound.
– Kayla Bartlett, RECE
Tell us some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
Spending time glamping at the trailer on the Nith River in the summer, reading and drinking coffee while it is still hot.
If you were an ice cream flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
Unicorn Toots? Just kidding- I’m going to go with my fave from Shaw’s- Sweet and Salty Pretzel. I’m mostly sweet, but can be fairly sarcastic sometimes, or have an unexpected twist, much like the saltiness of the pretzel.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m so grateful to my teammate for nominating me for this. I am quite touched and lucky to be in this role learning and working alongside them. I’m also so grateful for all the support and learnings available through Strive!!
Thank you, Jackie, for everything you do for children, families, and other professionals in this community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
Join us in celebrating Jackie by dropping her a comment below!
Do you know an outstanding early years professional that deserves to be recognized?
- takes an active leadership role within their community;
- has a demonstrated ability to build strong relationships;
- shows a loving and respectful commitment to children, families, and the ECEC profession;
- exudes professionalism and maintains enthusiasm for their continued commitment to ongoing professional learning.
Then nominate them to be our next Professional Spotlight!
Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org