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10x Guest: Alyssa Elder
Finding passion and bringing joy to the world!
As soon as you walk through the doors of Kindercare on De Anza in Cupertino, you feel this buzzing energy. You're greeted by the source of this cheer by the name of Alyssa Elder, who has served as the Assistant Director there for about three and half years. When you meet her, you're welcomed by her wide smile (hidden under a mask these days), and you know she is inviting you to take a journey into her world. I remember meeting Alyssa a couple of years ago, when I was looking for a daycare facility for my younger daughter, Zoe. As a parent, this is one of the first of the many important decisions you would take for the best care of your child. Alyssa, immediately put us at ease. She welcomed us into the Kindercare location, and talked about the facility, the programs, the care and the kindness they practise every single day. She was no ordinary tour guide, really the best in class. She genuinely cared about caring for kids. I immediately canceled my visits to other daycare facilities and signed up with Kindercare. I would have thought that first impression would be a memory of the past, but to my wonderful delight, I've had the pleasure to (briefly) interact with Alyssa over many pickup/dropoff occasions over the last two years, and her enthusiasm is exactly the same I felt on my first visit two years ago. I believe she is special and she has something special to offer to the world, perhaps her true calling, although I'm not sure if she would use these words to describe it. I certainly want to know her better, and I think the world will benefit from more people like Alyssa. So, let's hear her story in her own words.
I wholeheartedly feel that Early Childhood Education is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers out there. Every day brings a new set of challenges that we have the privilege of working through together as a team and growing from everyday. I have always enjoyed being around children and watching them achieve milestones in a classroom setting. I am excited to tell my story about choosing a career path that requires selflessness, passion and dedication. If you do this job to the best of your ability, you grow in areas you never knew you needed growth in. Most importantly, children benefit from having authentic experiences and connections with their teachers.
When I entered my senior year of high-school, we were granted the opportunity to select one “elective” course that was two hours long and included an internship off campus. As I ran through the usual long list of classes, I came across an Early Childhood Development course with a well-known veteran teacher that was recommended to me. On the first day of class, my lecture notes were seven pages long and color-coded. What an initial sign!! My internship teacher taught me how to use attention getters to grab the attention of a larger group, demonstrated how to use “can-do” language with the children and gave them instructions on what to do rather than what not to do. I also learned about various philosophies when teaching and began to discover that this field has many layers. The biggest lesson learned from actual classroom observation was to be flexible, easygoing and engaging. Every child brings something exciting to the classroom and it is our job to help guide their interests and encourage socialization and participation. I am forever grateful for the internship leaders I was able to watch in action! I was always impressed with how the Center Director of the school was able to host special events, learn the names of every family member and create a sense of warmth as anyone entered the lobby. I thought to myself in those moments - Maybe one day I could help create a center that welcomed a community feel that focused on raising children together as a partnership like this school!
Growing up as a child, I had my fair share of great teachers, and teachers whose approach or instructions didn’t land as well. I took it upon myself to learn from the best, and also thought about strategies to minimize missed opportunities. This exercise easily contributed to my strong desire to support children both academically and socially in a classroom setting. Children learn best when they are interested in the concept or somehow involved in the process, especially children under the age of 6. Some activities that are not age appropriate or require less participation and involvement can cause children to fall behind. Now being the Early Childhood professional I am today, I recognize those needs as being important and significant to many. I was highly interactive, engaging and responsive when I entered my very first few babysitting jobs with children. I genuinely cared about each child’s developmental progress, discovered their unique learning style and created connections with their family. It felt so natural to quickly catch on to what children and families are needing from a nanny figure. Having conversations with children around a shared focus helped guide their language development and ability to problem-solve and articulate themselves. Building confidence in young children from a young age gave myself joy and I was so good at it! I began to give parents advice regarding challenging behavior and how to follow through with remaining consistent when providing positive discipline. When my feedback was implemented, I saw changes in behavior and realized I was doing far more than “just babysitting”. Another solid tell-tale sign!
I quickly transitioned from being a babysitter in Community College to a full-time Recreational Specialist for children ages 3-10 coaching youth sports and teaching dance classes. After community college, I taught Preschool Art and entered an internship to support children with special needs all while simultaneously attending San Diego State University. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to grab the attention of a large group of children at any given age and foster their development on so many levels. Within six years I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and headed off to a Preschool program in the Bay Area. After teaching Preschool and learning from every teacher and director I worked alongside, I moved onto a management role for KinderCare. With a teaching team of 22 teachers and 105 families, I feel so fulfilled and honored to work a career that I have true, genuine skills and passion for. I now enjoy educating teachers in the field and providing feedback to support their professional growth patterns and I enjoy enhancing the quality of our program day by day. From a corporate perspective, I continue to find new ways to become involved in anti-bias curriculum, enhanced health and safety protocols and create a KinderCare team that is highly engaged in bringing learning to the classroom environment. I have never once questioned my chosen career path as it has always been where I belonged!
Alyssa & 10xManager