Educating Parents and the Public
Educating Parents and the Public: Diane Hodges-Hunter
Diane's Story: Diane is a self-described “jump rope queen.” She can easily do 150 consecutive skips, and will challenge anyone to a jump off, including her young students. Not surprisingly, after 20 years as a home-based child care business owner, she still gets charged up by “a lot of chitter chatter and running and laughter and playing and jump roping” from the children in her care.
Despite the joy she gets from working with her students, Diane is ready for a new challenge. Fortunately, her participation in the UMass Boston leadership program has inspired her to remain in the field of ECE. Diane’s experience, knowledge of early childhood education, teaching skills, and business savvy makes her someone that the field simply cannot afford to lose. Although she has not yet figured out her next steps, her immersion in ECE literature and research has her thinking about ways to share her knowledge with more people.
“I learned too much in this [program],” she says. “Now I’m ready to move out of my house and have a bigger center. … I need to grow.”
Diane has since joined the board of trustees at a private science school. She also shares more with her parents about what their children do during the day, and explains why they’re doing what they do. “We know what our children need to be successful in the future. They need to have a stable, strong foundation in science, math, technology, and speaking and being able to articulate in English or Spanish,” she says. But parents don’t often understand that this learning takes place in home child care settings, so she shares “scholarly articles” with them and engages in “more in-depth conversations about why this works.”
When she started her business, Diane earned an associate’s degree in early childhood education while working full-time to learn how to be a teacher. She followed that up with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts to broaden her knowledge base. She eventually earned her master’s degree in management to learn how to better run her business. Diane’s experiences in the leadership program reinforced her belief that the mindset to continually improve needs to be encouraged within the field, especially among those with years of experience.
“They don’t feel that anything is going to impact or change [the field],” she says.
Learning about the latest research in ECE and mastering “new concepts” can be a powerful way for educators to feel more hopeful about the field, and even feel better about what they do. Ultimately, the challenges facing ECE today, Diane says, cannot be solved without leadership from within. Child care providers and early education teachers have “a lot of knowledge and no one knows it.”
That, she says, needs to change.
Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation
150 Mt. Vernon St.
Boston, MA 02125-3393
This institute is part of the College of Education and Human Development.