Introduction Letter from Executive Director Sharron Harrington

Dear Colleagues,

I am honored to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of VTAEYC. It means so much that the Board of Directors – my former colleagues, and my friends – trust me with this responsibility. That’s especially true now that early childhood education in Vermont is on the verge of transformational change. VTAEYC is committed to being an influential advocate for Vermont’s early childhood educators and the administrator for resources and support for our workforce.

Like so many early childhood educators, my educational and career pathways meandered. While teaching, I earned a CDA, took un-stackable courses, completed a Prior Learning Assessment, and then enrolled in an accelerated degree program. I navigated this fragmented system while teaching full-time and making slightly above minimum wage. Eventually, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, which requires 120 credits. I earned 299 credits on my path, with significant student loan debt to show for it.

But just as valuable as what I learned in classes is everything I learned from the children I taught and from my fellow early childhood educators. I firmly believe that our personal and professional experiences result in valuable, transferable skills.

I came to advocacy after working with children and families and learning about the system beyond the classroom. My journey taught me early childhood educators need advocates as much if not more than Vermont’s children and families. I am in this role today to uphold VTAEYC’s mission to advance equity and excellence in early childhood education, with early childhood educators as our foundation, so we can do our best for all children, including my own granddaughter.

My journey taught me early childhood educators need advocates as much if not more than Vermont’s children and families.

The career services VTAEYC provides are critical for helping early childhood educators discover and access the right pathways for their own careers. Over the last several years, VTAEYC has re-envisioned how our programs support our workforce. Examples include outreach to middle and high school students in career and technical education programs, and grants to bridge financial obstacles faced by ECEs already on their paths. There’s much more to do: we continue to strengthen our programs, invest staff and resources into workforce supports, and partner with preparation programs to develop clear pathways.

We’re all different, but we can unite around our shared identity as early childhood educators. That’s why creating a well-prepared, well-compensated early childhood education profession, with clear paths and professional designations, is so important. We have different educational backgrounds. We may teach infants, toddlers, pre-K, or young elementary age students afterschool. We may teach in our own home, in a private or public center, or in a public school. But we’re all early childhood educators. We all want equity and quality for our children, and we deserve a system that honors and compensates us fairly for our expertise.

We all want equity and quality for our children, and we deserve a system that honors and compensates us fairly for our expertise.

I am deeply committed to this organization’s mission, vision, and values. I’ve served as VTAEYC’s Interim Executive Director for the past two months, and as a VTAEYC Board member and President for several years before that. I’m proud to have had a hand in helping VTAEYC rise to where it is today, and I am inspired and motivated to lead VTAEYC in fulfilling our mission into the future.

That future relies on us continuing to show up for each other. Your membership is one important way to show your support for our advocacy and our best practices – and to access the NAEYC and VTAEYC resources, networking, and other opportunities our members enjoy.

Thank you! I am always happy to hear your questions, ideas, and feedback. Contact me at sharron.harrington@vtaeyc.org.

Sincerely,

Sharron Harrington
Executive Director, VTAEYC

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Learn more about career and educational resources for early childhood educators and Advancing ECE as a Profession on the new, user-friendly vtaeyc.org!

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