What’s Your Story?

We are thrilled to announce a new partnership between AECA, A State Childhood Services and The Yarn!

We know that many of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to visit with friends and neighbors that just don’t understand what we do in early childhood education. AECA is committed to educating our fellow Arkansans on the importance of ECE to children, families, and our communities. We believe there are no better spokespersons than our members. Since public speaking, outside of our classrooms/programs, is not typically part of our job description we want to begin by providing a coach to assist EACH of our spokespersons. That is our purpose for partnering with Arkansas State Childhood Services and The Yarn.

At The Yarn, they use the power of story to amplify voices, build understanding, and create space for human connection. Watch this short video to find out more.

Storytelling Goals

To identify and cultivate stories of those working in early childhood education in Arkansas.

To develop skills and instill confidence in those working in early childhood education as to the value of their stories and the need for those stories to be shared.

To highlight the importance of the work of early childhood education, as well as those doing that work.

Storytelling Process

Our outlook for this initiative is to have our early childhood storytellers share their story far and wide. Interested applicants will begin by submitting an interest form. They will then be notified if they are selected for the next cohort of storytellers. The Yarn will then meet with this cohort as a group to provide a mini orientation and to answer any questions they may have. Hilary Trudell (from The Yarn) will meet with storytellers individually to help structure and develop their stories. They will then all meet together to share their stories with each other. There will be some discussion around the best modes for sharing stories – such as presenting at the October conference or sharing a video.

Hopefully you can see why we think sharing your story is important, but if you’re not quite sure yet here are three more compelling reasons:

Donald Davis, American storyteller, states that “Every time you tell your story it changes you and the
people who hear it.” This will benefit anyone with experience doing this important work.

Sharing your story can be used to inform policy and generate the attention early childhood education and educators deserve and send the message that early childhood education needs more support.

By sharing your heart, your passion, and your story we will all get a glimpse into the lives of the amazing early educators we have right here in Arkansas! We are all key players who can inspire each other!

The pandemic has gained the attention of the world on the important role that early childhood education plays in the economy and to families – we want to KEEP that attention by sharing our stories! Change can only happen when there is understanding of the needs and a shared vision. We believe that the power of stories can lead to the change we need! We know you have important things to say! We want to provide you with the opportunity to work with a story coach and a group of colleagues/fellow storytellers to hone your story and increase your confidence in sharing with others.

Here are the stories from our first cohort:

My husband has recently retired and back when the pandemic hit, he was like, ‘Susan, this is a good time just to close. Parents will understand.’ And so I thought about it and I was like, ‘Well, right now is not a good time because this is the normalcy that my kids know.’
We’ve not missed a beat during this pandemic. We’ve been very blessed, very fortunate. We’ve closed one time for a positive case. It was a short time, parents were very considerate, very helpful. So, I’m still open.  Parents still coming. I’ve had maybe one or two drop out for a little while but they came right back.
And I love this! It’s not like I say, ‘Oh gosh, I’ve gotta go to work in the morning.’ It’s never been like that. It seems like I’m always burning the candle at both ends. But I can say that my kids, my families, they…are what keep me happy. Whenever I think about not having them every day it just doesn’t seem normal.

– Susan Wilkins, Family Child Care Provider
Read the full video transcript here.

Recently I was asked, ‘Why do you continue 14yrs later to do what you do? It’s not an easy job…?’ And the answer is just simple: I love the littles. And I love the difference that I can make in the lives of children and families.
Parents rely on me to help them be prepared and help them – regardless of their child’s ability – be prepared for the next stage in life. I’m privileged to be able to help lay the foundation on which they are going to build their child’s life on, and that child is going to build their life on when they leave us.
I never did become that Kindergarten teacher that I told my dad I was gonna be. But I got to be something more. I am an early childhood special educator.

– Renee Philpot, Program Administrator
Read the full video transcript here.

Maybe at the end of the day I am a phoenix, and you’re a phoenix too! Let’s guide each other through. Let’s laugh, let’s live, let’s learn. We may mess up – but we for sure will dance and have fun!

– JoAnna Blocker, Early Child Care Behavior Specialist
Read the full video transcript here.

If you know someone who might be interested in telling their story, or if you want to share more information with your staff team, please download our informational flyer. Please let us know if you are interested in being in our next cohort by filling out this form or emailing communications@arkansasearlychildhood.org.

You Inspire Our Field

Over the past few years and counting during this global crisis, early childhood educators have continued to work in unprecedented circumstances. With the world around us on the brink of normalcy, you found ways to connect with young children and their families in new and innovative ways and ensured they had the most nurturing and safe learning environments possible.

Your work has endured and has an enormous impact on our field. For that, we want to acknowledge how you have inspired us all, and invite you to share your story of resilience or recognize a peer on their behalf. Every day individual educators give their all to make a monumental difference in the lives of the young children, families, and the communities they serve.

You can read inspiring stories over on our blog that were shared with us during Arkansas Children’s Week here.

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