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. The child care community has risen to every challenge over the past 16 months with grace, determination and professionalism. We are so proud to be a part of this vibrant community and want to continue to recognize the outstanding efforts, innovations, and contributions of our treasured colleagues across the sector.
We are therefore incredibly excited to introduce our new Professional Spotlight series!
These profiles will feature outstanding early years professionals for their leadership, exemplary practices, and their commitment to giving children the very best possible start in life.
For our very first Professional Spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce you to RECE, Joanne Chesterfield! Joanne is currently a Preschool Educator at Kids Ko. Childcare Centre in Komoka and an active Strive member. Joanne is joyful and enthusiastic in her approach to her life and her work. She inspires the best in those around her and leads with curiosity.
Keep reading to learn more about Joanne!
Tell a bit about yourself.
Hey! I’m so happy to be here. My name is Joanne and I grew up in Stratford, Ontario. I came to London after graduating high school and attended Fanshawe College. I studied Early Childhood Education and Autism and Behavioural Science. I have been working as a RECE in the field for 9 years. I am married and have 2 children of my own. Lily is 5 in September and Maisie will be 2 in June. I currently am a RECE at Kids Ko.Childcare Centre in Komoka in the Preschool Classroom.
What does being an Early Childhood Educator mean to you?
Being an Early Childhood Educator means a lot to me. I show up daily and give 100%. I start each day with a positive attitude and put the children in my care first. I plan activities according to the children’s needs and interests. As an ECE this job is so rewarding for me. When you see the children accomplish a task and are so excited about accomplishing it, it makes you feel fulfilled and successful. I love spending my days with the children and conversing with families.
What is something that you have learned recently that you are excited about?
I have always known that team collaboration was important to me and a key to success when working with others. Recently at work I have created a board for the team members. It says “Take what you need” and has sticky notes with different words on it. For example strength, forgiveness, peace, joy, kindness, a friend etc. The goal is to get all the staff involved.
What is something you are unlearning?
Something that I am unlearning is letting go and allowing others to take the lead. I always felt like I needed to be the one to do things for them to get done but I am learning that it’s okay for others to help. I can’t do everything myself and that is also okay. It’s something I am still working on.
What is the biggest misconception about Early Childhood Education?
The biggest misconception that I would love to see debunked is that as an ECE people think that all we do is PLAY all day. If I listed all the tasks that we have accomplish in a day and threw in the emotions of the children, diaper changes, cleaning, serving snacks/lunch, fixing boo boos, rubbing backs, planning and implementing activities etc. you would find that none of the Educators in the room only got to play at all! We pay a professional fee every year but are not treated like professionals. I wish that the world could see us for what we really are and how hard we work on a daily basis.
Joanne joined us at Kids Ko. in January and instantly made an impact on our community. Joanne got into relationship so quickly with her peers, the children in all the rooms as well as the parents. Her impact is seen and heard through the learning experiences she creates every day as well as the joy you hear coming out of the playroom.
Joanne’s commitment to professional development is inspiring; she is always learning and encouraging others to join in on the experiences. Even when her peers do not attend the classes, she is back at the centre reporting on what she learned… or leading experiences that create others to want to lead – talk about impact!!
Joanne goes above and beyond for our local London Middlesex community and brings the children in to the learning and experiences as well. This includes – thanking our emergency services with cards, thanking the mail carriers and nurses.
Joanne is a natural leader, who cares deeply about her team members and the children in our centre. We feel so fortunate she chose KidsKo to continue in her career as an RECE!!
– Cristin Hildenbrand, Owner and Director of Kids Ko.Childcare Centre
Tell us why you chose a career in Early Childhood Education?
I chose a career in Early Childhood Education because I always enjoyed taking care of my younger cousins. I also really enjoyed my high school co-op experience in Kindergarten classrooms. I knew that I wanted to teach in some way and felt that Early Childhood Education would be a great starting point in that goal.
What advice would you give someone thinking of choosing a career in Early Childhood Education?
The advice that I would give someone thinking about choosing a career in this field would be to find a positive mentor/leader in the field that could guide and support you on your learning journey. Get clear on your goals and what/where you want to have an impact in this field. This will help guide your decisions from learning experiences to places to work. Don’t forget to do your research on where you would like to work. Ask yourself, what are their values as a centre? What is the team like? Choosing the right place to work could really make or break you as an Early Childhood Educator. If you don’t align with the centre values or team dynamic, that is totally okay. You will find one that fits into just perfectly. I promise. Lastly, don’t be afraid to take on all the hands-on learning experiences you can and HAVE FUN!
Do you have a favourite quote?
“A brave leader is someone who says I see you. I hear you. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to keep listening and asking questions.”
– Brene Brown
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
Professional learning has contributed to my practice by keeping things fresh. It has allowed me to connect with other Educators in the field and get new ideas or think in a way that I haven’t thought about before. I love attending the sessions that Strive facilitates for Educators. They don’t just focus on the classroom and teaching but also on ourselves. My goal as an Educator is to attend one or two learning experiences a month and I thoroughly enjoy them.
Tell us about a professional learning experience that had a positive impact on you.
This is my favourite question! I recently attended a workshop hosted by Strive, with guest speaker Anisha Angella. It was called The Leader in You. This learning experience was beyond amazing! I left feeling empowered and ready to be the best me everyday. Anisha had us create our own Mantra and encouraged us to frame it in our place of work.
So I wrote and framed my own Mantra! I highly recommend it for everyone to try. I read it multiple times a day and it reminds me that I am a Leader. Since then, I have followed Anisha on social media for ongoing inspiration and even attended another learning experience that she provided through Hi Mama.
Joanne has been a great role model for Cole. He has changed quite a bit – for the better – since Joanne started with KidsKo. He still has his moments, but has made significant improvements since Joanne has been with the centre. When Cole is at home he consistently references what Joanne says and does. She may not know it, but she’s often the topic of conversation at the dinner table! He really looks up to her. Joanne is definitely a positive constant in our child’s life. We are so happy to have Joanne at KidsKo and glad Cole gets to spend time with her during the day.
– KidsKo Family
Tell us some things you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy spending as much time with my family as possible. We love going to the park, cottage, going for walks and new adventures. I also enjoy reading and learning new things.
If you were an ice cream flavour, what would you be?
If I was an ice cream flavour, I would choose chocolate with peanut butter cups because I’m sweet and full of surprises!
Thank you, Joanne, for all that do and for being a treasured member of the Strive community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
You can connect further with Joanne through her Instagram account, @joannetherece where she shares the inquiries and learning experiences she is engaging in with her preschoolers. Follow along!
And join us in celebrating Joanne 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 the continued commitment to ongoing professional learning.
Then nominate them to be our next Professional Spotlight!
Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org