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 aims to recognize the outstanding efforts, innovations, and contributions of our treasured colleagues from across the sector.
We are delighted to introduce you to Michele Andersen, RECE and Team Leader at Parkwood Children’s Centre. Michele leads with humour and positivity and inspires those around her with her creativity and enthusiasm.
Keep reading to learn more about Michele!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Michele Andersen and I have been employed at Parkwood Children’s’ Center for over 30 years. My original degree was in Psychology at UWO. Later in my career, I became a Registered Early Childhood Educator. My original goal was to be a primary teacher but that was not to be the case at that time. I truly believe you should never give up on your dreams as you never know what lies ahead in your future. Plant your seeds and let they grow where they may. As it would be, during the pandemic I got my chance to teach at Fanshawe in the Early Childhood Leadership course. I was so grateful to be able to apply my knowledge and experience and to give back to my profession in the process. So friends, never say never and be open-minded and accepting to opportunities that may come your way. You just never know where they will lead!
What led you to a career in Early Childhood Education and Care?
I have always loved being around children and have embraced their uniqueness, spontaneity, and creativity. I just wholeheartedly love being in their presence, hearing their stories and listening to what they have to say and valuing it!
What is the best part of your role?
Being a part of a child’s learning journey and embracing their growth and development. As well, seeing educators develop the leader in themselves and to be confident in their own abilities.
I was immediately drawn to Michele when we met in 1997. She has humour and a knack for lightening situations with an appropriate laugh or several!
She is passionate, energetic, constantly seeking knowledge and always creative. She is tenacious, determined, an effective mentor and team player. Michele embodies an attitude of fairness, logic and unconditional acceptance. She has a knack for making people feel at ease. Her career spans over decades, yet her knowledge sponge never dries!
Michele has raised 2 grown children: an educator and an entrepreneur. She also has a devoted and supportive husband, so she definitely practices what she preaches! I respect Michele as an individual and how she has fostered growth and confidence in all who are lucky enough to be in her presence. Professionally and personally, she is an individual who motivates and inspires!
Did I mention humour? Lol. Sometimes the best way to describe a person is through a visual. I worked at Parkwood for 23 years before moving back to the East Coast 2 years ago. It will always make me smile to think of so many children, parents, families and colleagues, who have laughed and giggled over the years and said, “Michele is so funny.” A beautiful knack to have.
Thank you for allowing me to rave about a well-deserved educator in the field of Early Learning! She is a gem and I appreciate her kindness, resiliency and good humour.
– Paula Hodder, RECE
What is something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about?
I have had to learn a lot of new skills /roles as a team leader. I embrace the challenge and am learning so much about the profession and myself in the process. You are never too old to learn and apply yourself!
What is something you’re unlearning?
I still have a lot of unlearning and learning around Indigenous cultures and teachings. In fact, I still need to learn a lot about inclusion and diversity as a whole. I see this and am willing to address it. I feel we all are in a process of learning alongside of and with each other to gain a better understanding of each individual in this world we share.
What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education?
That it is the most rewarding profession in that we get to witness the development of each child. Every child has a different learning style and pace. “Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also of succeeding” (Robert John Meehan). We have to discover what each child needs, then provide and promote it. It should be our goal as an ECE to observe what each child needs emotionally, physically, to be able to communicate effectively and regulate appropriately. Be present and engaged with every child in your care and effectively listen to what they have to say.
Michele is an Early Childhood Educator who has been working in the field for many years. Her passion and enthusiasm for childcare are displayed daily. Building relationships with families and children are definitely a priority and she strives to maintain these trusting relationships.
Michele is always up for a challenge and is a dedicated and essential part of our leadership team. She has been a part of our organization since the beginning and has become a valuable resource when mentoring students and fellow co- workers.
Her nomination as an Early Childhood Professional is well deserved. It is wonderful to be recognized for decades of devotion to Early Childhood Education.
– Susan Ward, RECE Parkwood Children’s Centre
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
No one can know everything; it is important to get multiple perspectives and viewpoints before you make your stance. We learn best alongside of and with each other. This pertains to the children in our presence as well. That being said, I think one cannot learn enough. I am an ongoing invested learner and want to stay up to date with the current trends, practices, policies and ways of being to be the best educator/person I can be! Ongoing professional learning is a must for all ECEs!
Tell us about a recent professional learning experience that had a positive impact on you.
The CPL Sexual Abuse Prevention Program comes to mind. Although, it was not a pleasant topic, it just goes to show the need for updating your perspectives, knowledge and awareness. I was not aware of its extreme severity and am glad that I took the training to be more aware and can now hopefully prevent or provide aid in these situations. I will definitely be pursuing this area of concern more. It also reiterates our need as a profession to advocate for the child and educators too.
I had the honour of working with Michele Andersen for over 13 years. In this time, I learned a lot from Michele. I always admired Michele’s ability to thoroughly explain aspects of the daily practice to new employees, students on placement, and to co-workers. This quality supported her as a seasoned RECE Mentor which allowed students and new educators the opportunity to be empowered and competent in their work.
Michele had an excellent sense of humour that she incorporated into her day, with the children, the families, and her colleagues. This helped Michele build meaningful and lasting relationships with others and put others at ease. Michele always welcomed everyone into the centre and was instrumental in supporting retention within the organization. Students and new employees would always rave about how welcomed they felt, and I know Michele was an essential part of providing this nurturing workplace experience.
Michele displayed leadership qualities in her practice by not shying away from challenges. She worked quickly to resolve important issues and made the time to research new ideas and theories. She was able to embed her learnings into practice and role modeled an openness to new ways of being.
I miss working with Michele, but I am thrilled to be able to continue to collaborate with Michele as a community partner and friend.
– Barb Jackson, RECE, former Director at Parkwood Children’s Centre
What inspires you?
Many things! I get so excited when I see engaged, inspired educators being present with children. To see educators grow the leader in themselves and to develop to their fullest potential. Or a community of practice coming together for conversations around relevant topics in the field and expressing their perspectives, ideas and solutions together, collaborating for a common goal.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Laugh or cry. I choose to laugh and to try and find the positive in every situation. Humour is a huge part of my practice and it helps me to focus on what I can control and what I cannot. Everyone needs to laugh, breathe and slow things down.
Tell us some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
In my spare time I love to spend time with my family and be outdoors. I also love to cook, entertain and read.
If you were an ice cream flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
I would have to say Rocky Road because I have had lots of challenges in my life; however, I have embraced them and moved on. Whatever obstacles you encounter, just take a step back, reflect and figure out your course of action. Try to turn things around to be more positive and look for the good in each situation. Life is precious and is to be lived! Be grateful for this life we have been given.
Thank you, Michele, for everything you do for children, families, and other professionals in this community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
Join us in celebrating Michele 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 email@example.com