Melanie Scrivner is an educator who changes lives one child and one family at a time. The vision of Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs is shared by Melanie, which is to have every child be ready for kindergarten. Many families in our community are challenged by limited finances, food insecurity, difficult living situations, and scant resources. Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) comes to the aid of children from these families so they can receive the special attention in preschool they need to be successful, not just in grade school, but also in life. Melanie encourages others who are interested in improving the long-term well-being of our youth to explore teaching options.
For the past seven years, Melanie has been an early learning teacher and is now a manager with Sound Harbor. “Every day I walk in this door and I see all these kids and I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” she said. She is a military spouse who has found that skills necessary for the challenges of that life translate well to her career in education. “I know what it’s like to be part of a community. I have the ability to multi-task and to be flexible.” These are valuable tools when working with young children. It was also helpful to have the extra income for her family.
Melanie was pleased to opt for the employment benefit of earning her AA from South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Early Childhood Education. The cost for school was covered and she is closing in on getting her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with an endorsement for trauma support education. The financial assistance from her work made a huge difference in her ability to achieve her goals. Teachers and administrators also enjoy regular professional development, part of the employment package.
Sound to Harbor serves Mason, Grays, and Thurston counties with 16 learning centers. The large complex on the SPSCC campus serves over 800 children throughout the year. There is a continuing need for talented teachers and teaching assistants throughout the region. The Early Learning Center is hiring teachers who want to become part of a committed team. Melanie first became a TA (Teaching Assistant) and then a teacher. The work fit well with her military life and experience as well as her life-long involvement with helping others. When she was 18-years-old, she worked with a family who fostered children with extra needs. Later, Melanie provided respite care for her neighbor, also a military family. Her belief that proper attention given to youngsters has long lasting, positive implications was solidified when she worked with their four-year-old son.
Interested parents will find the early learning centers provide an impressive level of services, not only for the students, but for the families as well. People are apprised of the many and varied social services in the area. Then they are assisted to make connections for help with housing, medical needs, legal advocacy, nutrition support, and so much more. Melanie loves working with the children, but also sees that working with the whole family is essential to the ongoing heath and success of everyone.
Center Director Angela Kallas also explained the depth of services for the teachers. There are behavioral specialists to identify specific avenues for helping individual students and teacher coaches to help implement the plans. The teaching team is quickly up-to-date on best practices in teaching and has help with implementation as necessary.
Options for childcare and preschool are varied and have been structured to fill the varied needs of parents. There are half-day programs in the mornings and afternoons. These are three-and-a-half hour sessions. The school-day option for some Head Start students is a daily program for six-and-a-half hours. There is also an ECEAP wrap-around program with preschool and then daycare before or after school. Interviews with incoming families will determine the best option for them.
In this day and age, it is easy to wonder, “How can I make a difference?” Becoming an early education teacher is one answer that not only affects your community but you, too. You can receive education as you go, but military spouses bring a set of skills that interface well with spending time with active youth. Retirees also have years of varied experiences to offer. There are multiple reasons Melanie loves her job. Every day offers something new. She values the strong connections she makes with the children and families that participate. “I have the ability to make a difference,” she smiled and added, “I see them leave at the end of the year and I know they are ready and prepared.” That’s a big deal! You, too, can be a positive element of change and success. Explore the delights of working with children. You’ll probably even rediscover a few toys.
South Puget Sound Community College
Sound to Harbor Early Learning Center
2011 Mottman Road SW, Building 20, Olympia