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 Tina Chilton, a Kitchen Administrator at Milestones Children’s Centre. Tina is known for her warn and friendly demeanor, her yummy meals and snacks, and her commitment to supporting and mentoring other professionals.
Keep reading to learn more about Tina!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, my name is Tina Chilton and I am the Kitchen Administrator at Milestones Children’s Centre. I have had the pleasure of working there for the past 15 years. Nutrition is a professional and personal passion for me. I enjoy cooking at work as well for my family at home. I have been married for 16 years and I have one adult daughter. I enjoy running 5K on my treadmill daily before heading to work. I also enjoy being a dog mom to my 7 month old Great Dane, Olive.
Describe the role of a Kitchen Administrator.
As the Kitchen Administrator, I make the menus for our centre and prepare two daily snacks and lunch for the children. I adhere to a budget and create professional relationships with all of our suppliers. I look after the maintenance and repairs of all the appliances and ensure the kitchen is clean and organized. I support our Food Handler, who helps me with the cooking and cleaning, as well as preparing two snacks for our before and after school programs. I am new to the responsibility of being the direct report for our Food Handler, and I am looking forward to the opportunity and challenge to grow in my career.
What is the best part of your role?
The best part of my role is hearing how well the children have eaten the meals I provide. I put so much thought into ensuring they meet their body’s growing needs. I also love writing nutrition facts on the white board in the hallway for our Educators to support conversations with the children about healthy food. I enjoy being a part of the children learning how to eat for a healthy life.
Tina Chilton has been a part of Milestones Children’s Centre since March of 2006. Since that time, Tina has enhanced the position of Kitchen Administrator, demonstrating how critical her role is to the success of our child care programs.
Tina is committed to providing the children with snacks and meals that are not only nutritious, but are also well liked by the children. Tina researches menus that provide variety and that are yummy for the children and staff, too. It is common to have fish dishes, bean and tofu recipes, curry dishes, a variety of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, etc. each day and week. Tina is committed to Paint Your Plate and creatively educates staff about the benefits of different foods, by providing information to support our Workplace Wellness committee and by sharing food information daily. In an effort to have the younger children play a part in what they eat, Tina posts pictures of fruits or vegetables and give the children the opportunity to vote by marking on the white board beside which fruit or vegetable they want that day. This also involves the families, as they help the children to cast their vote, promoting a great sense of community and engagement.
Our school aged children also benefit from Tina’s knowledge of food and from her understanding of what children of all ages like to eat. Snack time is a highlight at our school age programs.
Tina also enjoys being a supportive member of the dietary community by networking with kitchen staff at other child care centres, and by creating outstanding professional relationships with others in the community – from Public Health, to the vendors that she works with.
Tina makes it her business to ensure that the children eat as well as they possibly can. Tina has evolved the position of Kitchen Administrator of Milestones Children’s Centre to one of leader and educator as well as the creator of amazing meals. We are thankful for Tina!
– Cora Burns, RECE, Executive Director & Christie Popescu, Operations Manager
What is your most popular recipe?
My most popular recipe is probably my oatmeal pancakes or maybe my unstuffed cabbage roll casserole… or it could be pasta in tomato sauce with beans… or tacos with sweet potato wedges. It is so hard to tell, we have really great eaters!
What is something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about?
Something I have learned recently that I am excited about is my new responsibilities in leadership. I can’t wait to inspire a love of cooking and passion for learning about the best nutrition for the children, guiding staff to be their best professional selves.
“Tina makes yummy stuff!” Yummier than Mommy makes, or so I’ve been told!
I always have peace of mind knowing that our 2 boys are getting lots of good, nutritious food made by Tina!
When we were home at the beginning of the pandemic we missed Tina’s cooking – a lot! When you see Tina’s menu and hear about all of her delicious and nutritious meals, you know the great pride Tina clearly takes in her craft and how much she cares about what she does. Feeding toddlers is one of the hardest things and Tina has mastered it! I also admire that Tina always has a smile on her face whenever we see her. I hope that Tina gets a lot of thank you’s from the many little mouths she feeds daily!
– Kate Casey, Preschooler Parent
What is something that you’re unlearning?
I am trying to unlearn thinking that I need to have all the answers to all questions on the spot. It is ok to say “I’ll get back to you on that” and take a bit of time to process and reflect. It is ok to not know the answers right away and give yourself time to find the best ones.
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
Professional learning has contributed to my growing nutrition knowledge and how to provide the best supportive nutritional environments for children to develop into healthy eaters for life. It has also helped me to learn how to be a better leader and advance and grow in my career. I am a knowledge seeker and love to learn new things.
Tell us about a recent professional learning experience that had a positive impact on you.
I recently watched a webinar on communication and realized how important body language can be. I talk with my hands a lot and I was unaware that my sometimes excited hand gestures can really be off-putting or possibly give the wrong impression. I guess this is also something I am trying to unlearn. I feel this was a positive impact for me because you cannot change what you are unaware of.
What inspires you?
The children inspire me every day. I love knowing that I have positively contributed to their lives, even if they do not always eat the vegetables that I serve! I know that they will see the food as familiar and most likely try it because of this. I love seeing them grow and I look forward to their waves and smiles each day.
We are so lucky that Tina always brings the children yummy and healthy meals. The children look forward to seeing Tina everyday. When Tina drops off snacks, she doesn’t even have to knock on our classroom door to let us know that she has arrived as the children will excitedly say “Tina is here” as they wave and run to say hi to her. Once Tina leaves they are always excited to say “I said hi to Tina.”
Throughout the day, the children often ask where Tina is. We let them know she’s busy making our yummy meals. So, even though she isn’t with us for long during the day, the children are still thinking and asking about our her.
– Stephanie, RECE and Meghan, RECE
What are things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, after my treadmill runs and walking my Great Dane, I really enjoy watching movies and playing board games with my family. I also like trying new recipes!
If you were an ice cream flavour, what flavour would you be?
If I were an ice cream flavour I would be chocolate because I love chocolate. Is there anything better?!
Anything else you would like to add?
I would also love to add that I raised an adventurous eater and I contribute it to never putting pressure on her to eat. When she was young, I would let her pick a healthy food item from the grocery store that we had never tried before. We would take it home and figure out how to prepare it and we both would try it. There was never any pressure, if she didn’t like it, she got to spit it out but if she did, then we found a new food to enjoy.
Remember that you are teaching healthy eating for a lifetime, and not just for today!
Thank you, Tina, for everything you do for children, families, and other professionals in this community. We are incredibly proud to know you.
Join us in celebrating Tina 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