A Commitment to Give Back – Phylis Benner, Virginia (CounciLINK, December 2013)

Phylis Benner

Phylis Benner
CDA Professional Development Specialist
Richmond, VA

For the past 47 years and counting, Phylis has made it her passion and goal to actively assist in the professional development and education of early educators, young children and their families around the globe.

She began her early care and education career in Vienna, VA, at the time she had four children and as she put it, “I was looking for something to do.” She began working half-day at a cooperative preschool at her church and really enjoyed it. During a brief stint of transition with her family, she left the preschool and went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology.

Realizing how much she really enjoyed working with children, Phylis decided to return to the early care and education field. However, she was concerned that she had no formal background in early childhood education. “I wanted to show employers that I knew how to workwith children,” said Phylis. It was then that Phylis decided to apply for the national Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™. Earning her CDA Credential gave her a tangible piece of evidence and demonstrated not only was she capable of working with young children, but that she also had experience working in the field.

It was not long before Phylis realized that she wanted to do more and so she became a CDA Advisor and Council Representative for CDA Candidates. Phylis said, “I wanted to give back to my profession and support others going through the CDA process – I get a really big kick out of mentoring and helping others.”

On her career path, Phylis was afforded a number of opportunities to train, mentor and help early educators here and abroad. She has worked for such places as Wolf Trap, Children’s Foundation in DC and the ECE National Trainers Bureau. Phylis didn’t allow her comfort zone to dictate where her passion for early care and education could take her.

Now as a CDA Professional Development Specialist, Phylis says, “I love the new program, I like the visits, the way it’s setup and I’m really enjoying the ROR Model. The reflection piece is my favorite because the CDA Candidate has to come to the table with something – Being a PD Specialist falls into my philosophy of giving back.”

Between CDA Verification Visits, Phylis is also the Education Coordinator at her churchChild Development Center and dedicates her time to the Liberian Orphan Education Project as a Senior Trainer. In my phone conversation with Phylis, it doesn’t sound like she has any plans for slowing and down. She undoubtedly loves every minute she spends depositing what she’s learned back into the lives of early educators and her Community.

In her closing remarks, Phylis said, “I honestly don’t think I would have done anywhere near this much without first having my CDA – I have been all over the world, CDA is the Best 1st Step! One of the best things you can do is stay connected in the field. I also encourage all early educators to be open to opportunities outside the box – I still use what I learned while teaching artists, so many years ago, in the classroom today!”

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