Children in BloomDebbie Schmelling, Provider
Family Care in Merrill, Northern YoungStar Region
For the past ten years, Debbie Schmelling has been giving Merrill children a strong start in life. Debbie combines her formal professional education with her rich personal experience as mother to six children - two of whom are planned adoptions after they first joined the Schmelling home as foster children.
Debbie is in the process of obtaining an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Development and has completed the Preschool Credential in Early Childhood. Her commitment to quality in child care led Debbie to take advantage of many quality improvement efforts, including YoungStar. Debbie knows first-hand the value of child care program improvement opportunities and uses the knowledge she gained to provide excellence everyday.
As Debbie is a great example and champion of quality child care, Children in Bloom was selected by the Department of Children and Families as a Rising Star.
Library Square SchoolKimberly Yehle and Toni Nader, Executives
Group Care in Kenosha, Southeastern YoungStar Region
Library Square School is a shining example of how thoughtful changes can have a big impact. These child care providers know that physical activity is good for a child's body and mind. To encourage this, teachers had led play that involved physical activity. However, with the support of YoungStar, a Department of Children and Families initiative, and with Active Early, a Department of Health Services program, the children are now taking the lead on being healthy.
With insight gained from these improvement opportunities, the center adjusted their schedule and took a look at how they could promote more active choices throughout the day rather than just at designated times. They have created active areas within their classrooms and promote physical activity during the story time as well. By making these changes Library Square School is promoting healthy choices of play which benefits all the children in their program.
For their attention to quality care and focus on improvement, Library Square School was selected by the Department of Children and Families as a Rising Star.
Shelly's Family Day CareMichelle (Shelly) Davies, Provider
Family Care in Dodgeville, Southern YoungStar Region
With her devotion to quality care, Shelly Davies has served for ten years as an example of excellence. Anyone who sees her interaction with the children in her program will instantly notice the high level of care she gives and how this benefits the children. Her kids are being taught wonderful social-emotional skills, and it shows in their levels of confidence and competence. She has real conversations with her kids, holds them close when they have "owies", sings with them and has the patience to explain the reasons behind rules.
Providing this level of quality is directly connected to Shelly's dedication to professional development. She regularly takes advantage of training and is advancing her education. In fact, Shelly is nearly finished with her fifth child care credential. Her focus on program improvement is evidenced by Shelly's professional development plan.
Shelly knows that working together with parents is the best way to support children. She maintains frequent, open communication with parents and her handbook lays out her policies so parents can know what to expect. This collaborative spirit is seen in the multiple family get-togethers each year and the daily communication with parents about their child's progress and activities.
The Department of Children and Families has selected Shelly's Family Day Care as a Rising Star because while she is committed to running a great business, her primary concern is the well-being of the children in her care. Any parent would be proud to have a child in Shelly's care.
Program: Kids N' CareSahera Abukhamireh, Director
Group Care in Milwaukee, Milwaukee YoungStar Region
When building her staff for Kids N' Care, Sahera Abukhamireh knew that having knowledgeable teachers would benefit the children in her care. This combined with staff dedication to make improvements to be the highest quality center they can be, really shows their commitment to quality and excellence.
Sahera's excitement about improving the children's environment is contagious. She is changing the center's room arrangements and has used the Environment Rating Scales to inform staff's decisions about where to focus. The staff team is dedicated to the children and can see how YoungStar training and technical assistance will have long-term benefits. Sahera welcomes YoungStar and is very pleased that the state is now moving in the right direction for quality.
Because of their dedication to quality for children, Kids N' Care was selected by the Department of Children and Families as a Rising Star.
Program: Merri's MunchkinsJaime Culbert, Director
Group Care in La Crosse, Western YoungStar Region
When the opportunity came along to join YoungStar early, before other providers, Jamie Culbert jumped in. She was ready to make improvements that would benefit the energetic children at her center Merri's Munchkins. In initial observation of the four and five year old room, the children seemed to have a difficult time dealing with conflict and confrontation. Teachers worked to maintain a positive environment for the children, but were in need of some new tools to help diffuse some of the children's more aggressive behaviors.
After meeting with the director and each teacher, the YoungStar Technical Consultant suggested the entire staff attend the Pyramid Model Training. This training helps the staff identify and respond to the social or emotional needs of children. In the first visit the children were seen getting physical to settle disagreements. Now, the classrooms are much calmer environments because they integrated the Pyramid Model training into their daily interactions. On a recent visit, a child asked, "Please, may I have the wheels for a Lego car?" and the second child told the first child that he was using them, but would let him have them when he was done. The first child responded, "Thank you," and chose a different activity.
Each teacher is working very hard to meet the needs of the individual child. Jamie wanted the center to be the best it could for the children it serves, and she was ready to make the changes needed. She is a hands-on director involved in the day-to-day activities of her classrooms. To continue her journey, Jamie continues to seek regular guidance on how she can improve her center for the children and families she serves.
For their willingness to make improvements, dedication to quality and commitment to children, the Department of Children and Families selected Merri's Munchkins as a Rising Star.
Kidz in MotionKaren Rhoades, Director
Group Care in Green Bay, Northeastern YoungStar Region
Kidz in Motion has been on the forefront of YoungStar and the director, Karen Rhoades, is excited about the improvement process and is ready to implement the center's Quality Improvement Plan with their YoungStar Technical Consultant.
When Karen Rhoades sees an opportunity to improve Kidz in Motion, she jumps. Kidz in Motion has been on the forefront of YoungStar and as director, Karen is excited about the improvements they are making. Kidz in Motion has worked with their YoungStar Technical Consultant to find the best way to improve the care they provide children and are creating their Quality Improvement Plan to map it out and keep them on track.
The focus on making improvements that benefit children has led Kids in Motion staff to take advantage of training and educational opportunities. All Kidz in Motion lead teachers and directors have participated in Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards training and in Pyramid Model training so that they can better meet the social and emotional needs of the children in their care. Lead teachers at Kidz in Motion all have six credits of credit-based education, three teachers have Associate's degrees and one holds a Bachelor's degree.
Paying for education can be tough but Kids in Motion did not let that stop them. They tapped into T.E.A.C.H., which gives scholarships to child care workers to complete course work in early childhood education. Kids in Motion has previously sponsored six T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Wisconsin recipients and currently has one T.E.A.C.H. scholar.
For their continual focus on improving their program, supporting their staff in pursuing excellence for children and their dedication to quality, the Department of Children and Families selected Kids in Motion as a Rising Star.