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.
This month, we are delighted to introduce you to RECE Sue Bechard, a Community Connector at Family Centre Westmount. Sue is cherished by her friends and colleagues for her warm smile, positive attitude, and going above and beyond for the families she works with.
Keep reading to learn more about Sue!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Sue Bechard and I graduated from Fanshawe College in 1993 from the Early Childhood Education Diploma Program. I was awarded the AECEO award of excellence upon my graduation. Twenty-eight years later, I have never waivered from the career I chose and absolutely love.
I am also a wife and Mom of three children. I have two boys and a girl and yes, my two oldest are now adults! I worked in childcare for 7 years prior to providing home childcare for 6 years, when my heart told me I needed to be home with my young family. For the last 14 years, I have found a new passion in family resource and support. This lead to my position as Community Connector within London Children’s Connection at the Family Centre Westmount. I have had the incredible opportunity to learn and grow within the Family Centred Service System enjoying the challenges and opportunities the position provides.
Describe the role of a Community Connector.
It’s about creating genuine connections with people and connecting them with the right service providers. It is also about providing a safe, inclusive environment in which to support families and help them achieve better outcomes. Working collaboratively with other professionals on and off site to ensure the best connections are made is also a big part of my role. Working with a collective Community of Practice (other connectors across the city) is essential to the role as well.
What is the best part of your role?
Every person has a story. Every person walking through the doors of our family centre is deserving of what they need to thrive. The best part of my role is supporting that person as they walk through the process.
Sue Bechard has worked for London Children’s Connection since 2007 and has grown alongside the Family Centre Service System. Her compassion, empathy, strong listening skills and resourcefulness has made her the perfect fit for our lead Community Connector at Westmount Family Centre.
Sue eagerly jumps into new opportunities with gusto to not only support her fellow Community Connectors but also to enhance her skills, stay current in her practice, and build relationships. Her positive attitude, sense of fun, and openness allows her to connect with families authentically and genuinely.
Families that come to see Sue for support and assistance often keep coming back. A family that was struggling was supported by Sue for over a year. She helped keep them positive and gave them strength. When things started to turn around for them, they specifically stopped in at the Centre to show Sue the van they were able to buy. A wonderful follow-up, as it’s not often that in our work a family’s outcome is known. Sue’s dedication to this family clearly meant the world to them.
– Connie Dowell, colleague
What is something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about?
Reacquainting myself with a musical instrument. I was very musical growing up with an organ, violin and singing. I have been trying my hands at guitar during the pandemic and have been strumming away the last year. I would love to add it to my repertoire!
What is something you’re unlearning?
You can not pour from an empty cup! I am learning to put myself first, when possible, in order to help others, fill their cup. Personally and professionally, life happens and I am trying to unlearn the habit of just pouring through it or pouring when I am empty. Taking care of myself has become number one (some days!). I am still working on it and remind myself that I can not do it all. I have a go get it kind of personality, and sometimes I have to say no, which is really hard for me to do. I am learning that self-care is not selfish.
Why did you choose a career in Early Childhood Education and Care?
I knew I had a great connection with children from an early age. I accepted a cleaning position after school at local childcare centre when I was in high school. The staff could see my eagerness to come in early to volunteer before my shift. Ultimately, it felt right and with support from the centre staff, I applied to become an ECE.
What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education and Care?
There are now so many job opportunities to pursue in the field. If you are open to challenge and thinking outside of the box- the opportunities are endless. I am an example of how you can keep challenging yourself as an educator and still have a passion for the field. I love to mentor students with the same message. You can do just about anything if you put your mind to it.
We have been coming to Westmount Family Centre for over 3 years, beginning with my first baby when there were no restrictions on social interactions and then again with my second baby throughout the pandemic. Sue has always made us feel welcome and greeted us with a friendly smile (even behind the mask). Sue takes the time to learn about families and genuinely cares about making meaningful connections. I always felt encouraged to ask questions about parenting or to just talk about the difficulties of parenting, knowing that Sue would listen and only offer valuable advice and recommendations. Sue has made such a wonderful and positive impact on our experiences with the family centre, and her support has been invaluable. Thank you Sue, words cannot express our gratitude for everything you continue to do!
– Ashleigh and Family
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
I would not be where I am today if it was not for professional learning. I have been very lucky as London Children’s Connection has always supported our professional learning. My role as a Community Connector came with many different/additional skills to the role. I have learned about poverty in the city, housing, settlement services, and mental health supports. I have been on countless field trips to organizations that are working collectively to support families. These have been wonderful hands on experiences for me as an ECE and a Connector. Keeping in touch with Continuous Professional Leaning also has been important with my role and also has been a huge benefit to me as an RECE.
Tell us about a recent professional learning experience that had a positive impact on you.
Mental Health First Aid Training has had a positive impact on me as a Community Connector. It normalized the conversations that, as a connector, I use so many times throughout the year. It is really ok to not be ok. It’s such a positive experience to learn from professionals working in the field about how to help someone in need. It has been one of those professional learning experiences that I have actively put into practice.
What inspires you?
Families inspire me. It is the best day when you know that you made a difference in someone’s life. It could be something very small or something big. At the end of the day, I go to work to make a difference for others. Reflecting back on how I handled a situation, to improve or acknowledge the success or failure is key. It is not always an easy job.
My team also inspires me to do my best. Having a close family centre team that understands and supports the role of the Connector has made me the connector I am today.
Sue is a caring, knowledgeable ECE professional. Sue offers a friendly voice and an open ear for all that connect with her through the Westmount Family Centre. She genuinely listens to all and works hard networking and collaborating with community partners to offer supportive information unique to the circumstances of the individual. Sue uses her excellent problem solving skills to search out the best resources.
Working alongside Sue has been a joy for me. I always knew I could trust Sue to respond in a respectful manner and with complete attention to a question or request. While I am no longer working directly with Sue, I continue to proudly recommend her to anyone I connect with that may benefit from information on local services and resources. Even though we are not in the same office, I know she is only a phone call away!
– Jan Gaudet, colleague
What are things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to be outside in nature. I love to find new trails to walk with our family dog. As a family, we love to fish on our boat and take road trips to different fishing spots. I also love crafting anything and everything!
Anything else you would like to add?
If anything, I would like everyone to realize, you don’t need to know everything. I learn something new each day. Listen, observe, reflect and grow. It is what I do best!
Thank you, Sue, for everything you do for children, families, and other professionals in this community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
Join us in celebrating Sue 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