Ohio Educator Has Passion for Her Work – and A Lot on Her Plate

October 24, 2019

CDA HighlightHanna Skellett can handle a lot of stress. She completed her Child Development Associate® (CDA) coursework while working 39 hours a week at Laugh and Learn Day Care in Ashville, Ohio, and finishing her associate degree in business management from Ohio University in Athens. She was awarded her associate’s this May, obtained her CDA credential in July and is now on track to complete her bachelor’s in applied management by May of 2020.

No question that she brings a lot of energy and expertise to her role as lead teacher and assistant administrator in training at Laugh and Learn. And she says the best part of her job is learning from the children. “They teach me patience, and when I’m frustrated, they give me confidence and comfort.” They’re also “smarter than you’d imagine,” she points out with a laugh.

For example, her center has a sweet little boy named Eric who knows how to wrap folks around his little finger. “The other day,” Hanna recalls, “when I asked him to pick up his toys, he said ‘no’ and then kissed me on the cheek. He knew just what to do to get out of cleaning up his toys, and for a while I didn’t think I could get him to do it. But we sang a clean-up song and — finally — he started picking up the toys.”

Another little boy, Steven, is a budding astronomer who shows early signs of a starry future. “His parents gave him flash cards,” Hanna says, “and he already knows the planets. One day he came to the center and told one of his little friends the names of all the planets all by himself.”

Fortunately, Hanna has the competence and skills to bring out these children’s best. “The CDA helped me understand all aspects of child development,” she says. “It helped me learn the professional side, including handling problems with co-workers and dealing with screenings in the classroom. It also helped her center get a five-star rating after she and five of her colleagues succeeded in earning the credential.

Quality early care and education costs money, Hanna says, and that poses a problem for parents in the rural community where she works. “Now that we have a five-star rating, we have to up our prices to do all the screenings and assessments the rating requires. But that’s hard for us to do. Parents already have trouble paying our rate and we don’t want our children to leave.”

Ideally, Hanna contends, “child care and education should be free. Parents shouldn’t have to pay for it because birth to five are critical years when most brain development is happening.” But right now, “everything still comes down to pricing.”

Hanna may have to contend more with this thorny dilemma since her goal is to be the administrator of a child care and education center. Her background in both management and education should make her well-suited to this role. So should her desire to bring out the best in her profession. “I would like to make sure all educators get professional training, understand child development and have the know-how to help every child succeed.”

Hanna is also a strong believer in continued training, and she would like to see all the educators at her center earn a CDA. “The CDA has already empowered some of our teachers,” she explains. “It’s very good for someone who wants to continue their education.” And Hanna is someone like that since she feels she still has a lot to learn. Despite all the time she’s already spent in school, she’s now thinking of earning an associate’s in early child development, too.

That would put even more on her very full plate and increase the stress she feels. But Hanna has a passion for her work. “What inspires me is talking to the children,” she says. “They make me want to be better for them, and they relieve me of my stress.”

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