Rhonda is a Child Care Centre Director

The career pathway of Child and Youth Study graduates often leads to careers in management. As the Director of Early Childhood Education at the YMCA, Rhonda manages the YMCA’s two early childhood centres. These centres offer full and part-time programs for children from six months to six years old.

Most recently Rhonda has taken on the role of Director of the YMCA’s newly adopted “Playing to Learn” curriculum. “I’m always looking for a new challenge, looking to develop myself further, and I think that was cultivated at the Mount,” she says.

Rhonda says knowledge and practical experience gained through her BA in Child and Youth Study were instrumental in obtaining her first temporary job at the YMCA as a specialist for a child with autism. She then moved into a permanent position as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE). Rhonda’s aspiration was to become a director and she felt it was essential for a manager to have front-line experience.

“I don’t think you can do this job without having been on the floor and know what it’s like to be a teacher in an early childhood centre. So much happens in the run of a day and they have a unique perspective on how their individual classrooms run and that helps you have a perspective on the whole, so that your centres are running well.”

Though she is now somewhat removed from the classroom, Rhonda still makes it a priority to maintain a good relationship and a close connection with the children, families and staff. Rhonda’s position allows her to establish a balance spending time with children and staff in the classrooms at both centres and the management and administration of the centres. Time spent in the classrooms gives Rhonda a hands-on feel for what is happening so she can provide constructive feedback to staff.

On the administrative side of childcare management, Rhonda is involved in budgeting, accounting, purchasing, hiring staff, conflict resolution, maintaining children’s files, and liaising with professionals. Allied professionals involved in providing care and services for children and families include Nova Scotia Community Services child care specialists, speech language pathologists, physical and occupational therapists, and early interventionists. Rhonda is also an Abuse Awareness Protocol Trainer and provides this training to all new employees of the YMCA.

Every day is different and Rhonda has difficulty identifying challenges of the job because she says she enjoys so much of her role as manager. “It can be difficult to meet the needs of all clients, particularly if families have very specific needs,” Rhonda suggests. “But, in these cases we always pinpoint the focus to the child and what we’re trying to do for the child in need.”

“I enjoy my job and I’m happy where I am. It doesn’t mean I’ll stay here forever because maybe I’ll be looking for a new challenge,” she says. “My experience as a Director has opened my eyes to the other many other opportunities that are out there.”

Rhonda’s advice to Child and Youth students and graduates is to keep their options open, never stop learning, and make as many connections within the community and industry as they can. She stresses the importance of making the most of practicum placements.

“Exposure to different environments and work styles provides students with a variety of methods and allows students to develop a sense of what works for them,” she says. “Making strong connections with people in the child and youth care community is very important for your long-term career goals.”