Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?
I am from the Detroit area of Michigan! My family moved to Lake County the summer before my Freshman year. I remained in Lake County until October of 2016 when I moved just north of the border to Pleasant Prairie because my husband works out of Brookfield, Wi, however my husband’s family is still in the Lake County area.
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
I have a daughter, Quinn, who will be three in November and two pups, Bella and Wrigley!
What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?
My family and I love to be outdoors. We love to go for hikes, go to the beach and explore all the forest preserves in the area. One of our favorite restaurants in Lake County is Hayashi out of Gurnee. One of our favorite things to do is visit the Marriott Lincolnshire (where we got married) for dinner or even to see a play with our daughter!
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world? Please share!
I am the Director of The Learning Experience in Gurnee! I have worked in early childhood education since I was in high school! We are an early education academy that makes learning joyful, engaging, and fun so children are happy to learn, play, and grow. We love partnering with local organizations as part of our Philanthropy curriculum in hopes to give back to our community. We are honored to have been able to raise enough money last year to grant a wish through the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation. We have hosted many events to raise money, collect items to donate and so much more. One of our favorite events was our free throw contest to raise awareness and donations for the American Heart Association with The Vipers Semi Pro basketball team right here out of Gurnee!
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Personally, I have worked with hundreds of families in our community preparing their young ones for kindergarten, helping them take their first steps, learning how to count or even with potty training. The honor of being part of the ‘village’ it takes to help raise the children of our future has been such a blessing. I appreciate all of the families that have trusted me with their babies and the guidance and mentorship of my peers and leaders over the years has been instrumental in my growth as an educator and as a leader.
How has COVID-19 impacted your career?
COVID-19 has definitely thrown us a curveball, just as it has everyone else. We were very fortunate to have stayed open throughout the entire pandemic. Our mission statement is ‘doing our best every day for the children, our families and the community’. COVID has really allowed us to do that by offering care throughout the pandemic to essential worker children and by allowing us to keep our teachers employed. As a leader, it has definitely been a challenge in several different ways. On the business side COVID has truly helped me grow and understand the business in a different way. Our whole business structure changed; our revenue declined drastically due to the governors stay at home orders. We really had to get creative and figure out ways to bring in revenue through grants, loans or whatever we could do to help us stay true to our commitment of keeping our teachers employed. The other side of it is just being able to support our teachers and our families by ensuring we were providing everyone who stepped foot in this building a happy, healthy and safe environment for them to be in every day. We secured personal protection equipment, increased the cleaning procedures of the school, rewrote policies and standards for our teachers, children and families. Overall, COVID has absolutely challenged me in my career, but it challenged me in a really great way and I am proud to say that we have done these things and I am proud to have learned and grown from a situation that so easily could have felt defeating.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?
As cliché as it may sound, the best piece of advice I have received is to just enjoy the moments because time goes by so fast! I remember when Quinn was an infant and in a tough phase, I just kept thinking she will only be like this for a few months or soon she will grow out of it and it always happened. Now of course like any other parent, I just want those days back!
What are your favorite places to travel near and far and why?
My husband and I were fortunate enough to travel to Italy for our honeymoon, and I went back the next two years after that! It is by far my most favorite place to travel. I just absolutely adore the beauty of it, the history, the food, the people and how close you are to so many different cultures as well. We also visited Greece and I would absolutely love to go back and explore the islands more.
Which podcasts and/or TED Talks inspire you the most?
I have two favorite TED talks, the first is ‘Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion’. It is such a motivating discussion about how early childhood educators and educators in general are champions for the children we serve. My second favorite is ‘Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action’ it inspires everyone to really define their ‘why’ to what they are doing.
Tell me about your favorite book/s. I love receiving fiction and non-fiction recommendations!
I used to read so much more than I do now, it is actually on my 2020 goal list to read more books! I would say my favorite book is Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I enjoy a lot of her books. Other books that I have really enjoyed are Like She Owns the Place by Cara Alwill Leyba, It’s Your Ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and The Ride of A Lifetime by Robert Iger.
What is next for you?
I am hopeful that in the near future the owners of my school will be able to open more centers in our area so that we can continue growing our school and support the families in our community and those communities around us!
What is your Ask? How can the community help support you at this time?
My ask is that everyone just be kind. Honestly, times are hard right now, not only due to COVID but with everything else happening in our world, the election, education, racial injustice, everything. I really would like to see communities supporting one another. There is no right or wrong answer right now. Everyone is doing their best, and if they aren’t maybe they just need some encouragement, lift them up, don’t kick them while they are down!
*This post was sponsored by The Learning Experience