Voices of Our Members
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Below are a few stories from NAEYC members. While they all have various reasons for joining, individual goals, and different member benefits that are valuable to them, they all have one thing in common—they are part of something bigger! A community united to promote excellence in early childhood education.
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"To me, NAEYC membership means that I am a part of a professional community and that, as member of that community, I have a voice in the critical decisions that impact the 2 million early childhood educators who work hard, every single day, serving our nation's youngest children and their families."
Read Megan's Story
While pursuing a PhD full-time and looking for ways to connect with other early childhood educators who shared my interests and passions, my mother-in-law encouraged me to reach out to Dr. Carol Brunson Day (NAEYC Board President from 2014–2016, and my mother-in-law's former professor). I attended the NAEYC annual conference and met her in person. I was super nervous, but she was so kind! She took the time to listen to my ideas and introduce me to other leaders in the field who helped me navigate the conference and introduced me to the Interest Forums.
With the support of another friend and colleague, I got involved with the Diversity & Equity Interest Forum. Over the course of several years, we connected with leaders of other Interest Forums, created a Facebook page, and I began to feel at home in the organization. I built relationships with colleagues who were also passionate about social justice and anti-bias education and was mentored by some of the people whose books I read in college!
In May 2016, I received and email that read, "You have been identified by one or more current NAEYC leaders as a possible potential candidate for the NAEYC Governing Board." After thinking about it long and hard, I applied, interviewed, and a few months later was elected as the governing board's first Student Representative. I now have the incredible opportunity and responsibility to participate in discussions that influence the direction of our field--from streamlining the accreditation process, to advancing our profession.
So, to me, NAEYC membership is about much more than access to publications and discounted conference registration (which are, I do have to admit, great perks). To me, NAEYC membership means that I am a part of a professional community and that, as member of that community, I have a voice in the critical decisions that impact the 2 million early childhood educators who work hard, every single day, serving our nation's youngest children and their families.
"Today, I continue to be a very committed member that believes that anyone who wants to be a true early childhood professional should be a member. NAEYC is truly the voice of professionals who want young children in the country to have access to high quality early learning experiences."
Read Chad's Story
"Through every career transitions–from aide to teacher, from teacher to in-home child care provider, then as a student once more–the resources NAEYC provides have meant so much to me."
Read Katie's Story
The moment I realized how important NAEYC would be for my professional growth came before I was even a member. I had only been an aide in a preschool classroom for six months when I attended the annual NYAEYC conference in 2013. There, I met people from across the state who experienced the same triumphs and difficulties I did – seeking to engage every learner in the way that worked best for them, to find the song or movement or lesson that would light a spark in the classroom, or to make meaningful connections in the face of challenging behavior. I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and came away from the experience excited to apply this knowledge in the classroom.
Five years later, I continue to be immensely grateful for my NAEYC membership. Through every career transitions–from aide to teacher, from teacher to in-home child care provider, then as a student once more–the resources NAEYC provides have meant so much to me. They have supported me through tough conversations with parents, educated me in my curiosity, and helped me become a better educator and advocate for our field. After recently completing my master’s degree, I am not sure where my career will take me next. What I know for certain is that NAEYC will be there for me wherever I land.
More stories from our members
"Over the years as I renewed my membership, I viewed my renewal as a birthday gift to my professional self."
About fifteen years ago, my program director shared with me the value of becoming, what was called at that time, a comprehensive member of NAEYC. While I understood the benefit of joining a professional organization, my program director revealed to me the additional benefits of becoming a comprehensive member: the professional literature. Although the comprehensive membership fee was a stretch for my family’s budget, I decided to join that year in January, which just so happens to be my birthday month. Over the years as I renewed my membership, I viewed my renewal as a birthday gift to my professional self.
As a result of my NAEYC membership, my professional library has grown and grown with the books provided through NAEYC. I appreciate the variety in selection of the books and am always excited to see what book was chosen as part of my membership benefit. Some books that I have received have introduced me to a new-to-me author which inspired me to find other works by the same author to add to my library. Some of the books I’ve received have expanded my view of our field, and even though I may not have personally chosen that book for myself, I am grateful for the knowledge all the same. I value receiving the Young Children and Teaching Young Children journals and have found these resources to be very helpful in my work with adults and children. Whenever I’m presented with the opportunity, I share with upcoming professionals the additional benefits of my NAEYC membership with the hope that they will join and begin to create their own professional library.
"I am now part of the state board due to my belief in advocacy and the value I have gained from being a member of NAEYC."
I was first introduced to NAEYC while attending college in the early 1990’s. I valued the principles, ethics, and initiatives NAEYC promoted and became a student member while attending Oklahoma State University. Upon graduation I did not maintain my membership when I moved. However, over the years I remembered the value it was and upon returning to the field I became a member again. Today, it still rings true. NAEYC provides a wealth of information for the early childhood community. From research, to professional development, to true advocacy for children and families. I am now part of the state board due to my belief in advocacy and the value I have gained from being a member of NAEYC. I am also working in a community college and have an opportunity to share with my students about NAEYC and how it has impacted the early care community as well as my own journey. Thank you NAEYC for your leadership in the field I have a passion to promote.
"The NAEYC inspired me to continue my education even further and in 2017 I began my master’s degree program."
I first became acquainted with the NAEYC when I began my educational journey at my local city college. My professors urged us to use the NAEYC’s website as a resource for our assignments. I would often refer to the NAEYC’s position statements to gain a deeper understanding of developmentally appropriate practice and quality standards for a range of areas of development.
Soon after I began my job as a preschool teacher, I used my membership with the NAEYC to gain access to articles, publications, and the topics section to find ideas for my classroom and expand my knowledge. Within the second year of my hiring, my center began the process of becoming accredited by the NAEYC. This process seemed overwhelming at first, but the tools in the accreditation section of the NAEYC’s website helped guide our center through the process. In September of 2016, First Presbyterian Early Childhood Center was accredited.
In 2015, I decided to go back to school for my bachelor’s degree in early childhood development. I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2016. The NAEYC inspired me to continue my education even further and in 2017 I began my master’s degree program. My NAEYC membership has saved me a substantial amount of money on tuition at both colleges. This year, I was also accepted on the NAEYC’S Young Professionals Advisory Council. I graduate with my master’s in October 2018 and serve on YPAC for the next two years, and the NAEYC has helped me along the way.
"I am truly a better person and advocate when I am around other NAEYC members."
Being a member of NAEYC has broadened my exposure to ECE issues in Oklahoma and across the nation. It is empowering to be a member of an organization who puts the needs of the children, families, community, and staff first. I became a member of NAEYC when I was a childcare director for a local YMCA not knowing that I had benefited from the state affiliate for years prior to that. I attended the state affiliate conference every year when I was a before and after school counselor. It was the only training in ECE I received until I became a director. Since then I have served on the local and state boards with some of the most thoughtful and engaged EC advocates from various backgrounds. I am truly a better person and advocate when I am around other NAEYC members.
"I have realized just how important NAEYC, its members and its numerous benefits have helped to shape my professional goals."
A New Fish
I realized early on that the more I got involved, the more access I had to the benefits of NAEYC which would in turn help me and instill the fundamental principles into the teacher I am today. When I first went to college, I knew that I wanted to teach children. In and out of my classes, I worked hard at building a basic frame for teaching. I was given tricks, tools and proven facts about what was developmentally appropriate for young children. Throughout this time, I developed my personal teaching style and discovered what my philosophy for teaching truly was. My professors served as mentors for me; women who had already been involved in NAEYC and new the ins and outs of what it had to offer to help me grow as a future professional. I felt as if I were a baby fish, excited and eager to learn and to grow. I joined my university’s AEYC branch on campus that was led by a past president of Michigan-AEYC. Through my campus branch, I was introduced to the many conferences held by AEYC at all levels and I was given opportunities to network with various professionals that had a focus on literacy, technology, developmental play, emotional growth, etc. I worked in tons of classrooms, with a wide range of children and different teaching styles in the early childhood field. Through MiAEYC, I received the Student Leadership Award which was a blessing financially but also allowed me to network and help out in AEYC. I was also able to join the awards committee and help to provide the same opportunity to other members of AEYC. I was invited to meetings that were held and got to sit in and learn about some of the things that go on at a higher level. I worked with influential members of MiAEYC and I got to learn and grow further as a future professional. Upon graduating, I felt I was ready to swim in the big waters and to start my official teaching journey.
Fish out of Water
Even before graduating, I started looking on MiAEYC webpage, as they post jobs offered in Michigan. My first day in my own classroom, I had no idea what to do. I felt like a brand new fish, not knowing how to swim. I felt that I had lost all my confidence as a teacher and I had NO IDEA what I was doing. My nerves completely overwhelmed me and I fumbled a lot. The first thing I could think to do was go to a conference. They served as a reminder to me that I could do this. All the different sessions I attended helped me to see that I didn’t lose everything that my professors had been teaching me for 5 years. I remember going to sessions that specifically focus on new teachers and developing classroom management. There was such a wide range of sessions that I got to choose from. It was amazing. I also was able to go back “home” to my mentors from AEYC and get their advice, bare my insecurities and get motivated. They reminded me of who I was and what I was capable of doing. Their support and faith in me helped me to get back on track. I went to as many sessions, met up with other AEYC members who were new fish just like me. We collaborated and learned how to swim together in the Sea of ECE. NAEYC sends out tips and courses that I could take, online or in person that always seemed to be just what I needed. The first year is rough as a new teacher and sometimes it felt as if I had no time for anything else except for what I had to put into my classroom. I worked dawn to dust on building my room and NAEYC always seemed to give me new things to do and to try but also, their articles reminded me to take time for me, focus on building relationships with my coworkers and families and to trust in my community. I was able to establish another community of support. I attended PD’s and conferences with my new coworkers and we got to work as a team with all the new things we had learned! It was easier having such a huge support and knowing all the people connected to NAEYC because I knew that I always had someone to go to for help if I were lost, stuck or struggling with something in the classroom. A few years later, I was given the opportunity to join the youth professional advisory committee (YPAC)!
A Brave Fish
I was changing as a teacher, I had learned from the teachers around me and I had dealt with lots of challenging situations. I am the Lead teacher in a GSRP classroom and I have faced lots of hard situations but I have never loved and cared for children more. I have also seen classrooms where I have incorporated some new styles and classrooms where I think they could benefit from joining NAEYC and learning the basics and fundamental principles of teaching young children. I was able to mentor people who had never been in a preschool setting and provide them with research, resources and their own bag of tricks to better help them in their classroom. Joining YPAC, I got to meet and network with such a wide range of young professionals like myself. I really felt grounded in the basics (although I never stop learning and growing)! I no longer felt like the fish out of water but I know that I am not quite where I want to be. My passions have altered somewhat after talking to so many different people and attending meetings where I get to talk about the trials of being a new professional and working towards changing them on a larger scale. I have gotten to talk to and question others in the ECE field that aren’t necessarily teaching in the classroom. I have learned so much more about what it takes to support/raise I am gaining momentum as an advocate for the children but in addition I have enjoyed working with future professionals and helping them to muddle through the journey of teaching. I have realized just how important NAEYC, its members and its numerous benefits have helped to shape my professional goals. Through NAEYC I have learned so much about educating young children and I am still using NAEYC as my Home base as I go out and explore what the ECE Seas have to offer me and I can come back and continue to add to the School of fish back at home.
Ruth Ann H. Ball
"I hope your professional journey can be as fulfilling as mine has been."
Past OK AEYC President; NAEYC and SECA Board Member
I have been a member of MY professional associations since 1963, having served in a variety of leadership positions at the state, regional, and national level. Membership in a professional association kept me connected with other professionals with like-minded interests, but most importantly, every time I attended a conference, I learned something new that would help me with my daily interactions with children or as a director of a child development center or as a faculty member in a two year college or four year university. I learned more effective ways to interact with families as well as being more sensitive to the differences in families and communities. I now have friends all over the world. We are a diverse early childhood community with a primary focus of positive interactions with children and families. As a single Mother, I had to sacrifice to pay my dues; however, it was so worth it. I hope your professional journey can be as fulfilling as mine has been.