Amy Pennington Early Childhood Education Instructor/Program Director at Northwood Technical College I have been working with children, families, and teachers professionally since 1991 when I started as an assistant teacher in a Montessori preschool. Since then, I have held almost every position within the early care and education (ECE) field – child care center teacher and director, elementary teacher, family child care provider, ECE consultant – and for the last 13 years I have taught at Northwood Technical College (formerly WITC) as an instructor in the early childhood education program. I have always LOVED working with young children and their families and feel it’s the most important job in the world. In my current role, I can support lots of teachers to provide nurturing and knowledgeable care to so many more children than I could do on my own. I love that even more! I’m an instructor in the E-CHiLD online Associate Degree, which incorporates live virtual classes one night each week. These classes are truly wonderful! Students participate in hands-on activities and have opportunities to connect with each other while learning about child development, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and teaching/caring for young children. Although my students are often scattered across the state, we build a super supportive learning community. Being the best teacher you can be means being the best version of yourself - the best YOU that you can be. In the E-CHiLD program, we work with students to find their strengths, overcome past teaching/learning experiences, and think deeply about the nature of people, community, and the future. Self-reflection is not only part of the teaching cycle but is essential in doing authentic work. That’s one of my favorite parts of my job! I am proud and incredibly grateful to have been a part of the educational journey of some of the most dedicated, knowledgeable, and powerful ECE caregivers in our state. Looking forward, brain and developmental research clearly show the importance of play-based, joyful, and culturally supportive caregiving, curriculum, and environments for young children. I would love to see more programs, policymakers, and institutions fully understand and embrace these methods and recognize the essential work of ECE professionals.