Interview with Adrienne Lappan

Name: Adrienne Lappan

City of Residence: Dawson City

Occupation: Floor Supervisor, Dawson Society for Families & Children

How long have you been….an ECE?

I’ve been working as an ECE for approximately 6 years and about 8 years when I include my schooling.

What inspired you to become an ECE?

I’ve always worked with kids. I babysat as long as I can remember. In high school I was in a co-op program and I’d go to daycares and work all day. I had the opportunity to go to a variety of different daycares where I was in Windsor, Ontario so I got to “dip my toes in”.  Ultimately, I like to play.  I did a lot of volunteering with my church youth group that included all ages and it allowed me to “test” which age group I liked working with!  I was in Girl Guides and then became a Girl Guide Leader for 2 years. Then I moved and went to college and all of these opportunities helped me to know that I wanted to be an ECE.

What keeps you here?

I really like the Waldorf philosophy and hope to get my certification in this—I’m looking at New Zealand or British Columbia where they have forest kindergartens. Seeing kids explore makes me excited!

Settle the debate for us: Job or Profession?

It is totally a profession. When I think of a “job” I think of going there to earn money and then leave.  As an ECE there’s a training requirement and many opportunities for more training, for specific special needs such as autism; Montessori, Waldorf—it includes ongoing learning and professional development opportunities.

What does professionalism look like in the child care sector today?

In Child Care it looks like you are “dirty and playing” along just as kids are!  The harder part is finding the curriculum that all the children are interested in and ensuring they are thriving. There is also ensuring that there is open communication with parents.   Communication is a big part of the day.

What is needed for the future (wages, benefits, working conditions) to fulfill your professional role effectively? 

To be able to expand knowledge as a professional. Here, in Dawson it’s harder to get good training because there is the conference only once a year.  There’s online training opportunities. It would be nice to see the profession more respected with more money and acknowledgement that it is much more than “glorified babysitting.” The parents here are great – we’re lucky – they see the value and acknowledge us with gratitude.

What’s the most amazing story a child has told you?  

It’s funny all I can think of are the stories kids say of their parents, such as “Mommy always drinks wine while daddy likes to drink water” or “Dad always sleeps on the couch.” They always have good stories about fairies and gnomes. They’re like sponges and remember funny and random things.

How do you get your friends or family to support the importance of ECE?

My family totally supports me and the importance of ECE.  My mom was a stay at home mom and she approves of everything I do…she loves us so much. My family gets so excited when I tell them about things in the ECE field and how it also helps adults grow. A lot of my friends are ECE’s so they already “get it”.   In Ontario there was a big celebration in acknowledgment of Early Childhood Educator Day on October 25th.

Who is your favourite ECE role model of all times?

I don’t know if I have one particular role model. When I was working  in Waldorf programs I’d see calmness and this would come across – the sense of calmness would be present with so many of the educators.  I was inspired by them.

I wouldn’t change ________ for all the $$ in the 649!

Their excitement about nature! That’s one of my favourite things – the drive to explore and test the limits – such as climbing trees to see what they’re capable of. It helps them to grow.

What’s the best experience you’ve ever had as an ECE?

Working in Waldorf Daycare. I worked in one for 3 years and the daycare was right next to a forest. I was with babies (6 months to 18 months) and I love babies. It was so amazing seeing such little one’s experience nature. I was working alongside one of my best friends and we’d take the children on adventures. It was so much fun…seeing them dip their toes in the water at the lake – they either loved it or hated it!   I remember each adventure.

What’s your best tip or trick that you’ve used over the years—that new people wouldn’t know about?

If it’s not a big deal – let it go! Choose your “battles” wisely. For example, if a kid wants to stand up at the table to eat snack rather than sitting on a chair, allow it. Or, give a child a “wobbly seat” a special rubberized cushion that allows for movement while sitting. What this does is recognize the unique needs of children and acknowledging them rather than penalizing them.

What’s your absolute favourite resource that you “keep in your back pocket”? 

Probably my friend!  She’s not literally in my back pocket but whenever I need a new “song” or idea I text her and ask “What’re you doing for this ____?”  Pintrest is probably the best resource for creative ideas on blogs, or popups. For example, our theme is “seasons” and we’re in between fall and winter, I  type in “squirrels story” and the information pops up.  It’s super easy and handy.

What do you wish more Canadians knew about being an ECE?

That it’s okay to have the kids outside in the cold and snow!

Where is your favourite place to go & be with the kids?

“The forest” of course! The possibilities are endless in the forest. It’s a calming place to be when they need calming and an exciting place to be when they need or want excitement and exploration.

What’s the best up close and personal encounter you’ve had with politicians or diplomats?

I can’t think of any.

You’re talking with someone who is interested in becoming an ECE. No one is listening. What do you say?

I’d just say “get dirty.” The dirtier your clothes are at the end of the day, you know you’ve had a good day, even if you have to go to the store after work, it’s okay!  They’re just clothes!  It’s hard work and it’s worth it at the end of the day.

When the work gets to you, where do you go to recharge?

I set up my hammock in the forest and read my book or sleep (mostly sleep). It’s my “go to” place.

Money or genuine appreciation?

Genuine appreciation for sure. I could get paid nothing, and the occasional acknowledgement. Seeing smiles on the kid’s faces – that’s it right there!

You’ve just won a huge jackpot of 50 million and you have 24 hours to spend it in the ECE profession. What do you do?

Oh my gosh!  I’d build a Waldorf daycare with a farm and lots of animals and I’d make gnome and fairly houses for the adults as well as for the children.

Finally, what does “it takes a village to raise a child” mean to you personally?

Being able for the children to experience new people – to see what they have to offer and all those little experiences will help children grow and learn as much as they can.