January 19, 2022

Meet the ELA Center Director of the Year

The job of a childcare Center Director is challenging, inspiring, endlessly rewarding. Balancing so many different tasks on a daily basis to serve families as much as possible is necessary work, and at Early Learning Academies we are fortunate to have the best early childhood educators in these roles.

Each year, the regional leaders of our large network of centers nominate candidates for the Center Director of the Year. In the month of December, the network votes for the Center Director of the Year based off of the heartfelt nominations and the candidates’ demonstration of our core values. We’re proud to announce that the 2021 Center Director of the Year is Rachel Rarick of Wee Discover in Waterford Township, Michigan!

Rachel has been committed to her Wee Discover center teachers and families from the moment she arrived at the school. Rachel worked very hard in her first couple of months to improve classroom presentation and curb appeal by reworking classroom placement, room arrangement, cleanliness, and organization. She then focused on building strong employee relations and morale to embody a loving and nurturing environment for children and staff to thrive in. Her work has led to her enrollment doubling in 2021 and a great reputation within the community.

Learn more about Rachel’s journey from helping out at her church’s vacation Bible school to becoming Center Director of Wee Discover:

What got you started on your path into early childhood education?

I have always loved working with children! When I was growing up and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I tried to think about all the things that I enjoyed. I used to direct vacation Bible school at my church and just love all those memories with the children. I figured, why not make it a career?

What’s your favorite part of being a Center Director?

My favorite part of being a Center Director is honestly the ability to visit every age group. As a Center Director, I can visit any room and interact with ALL the children each day. I love the relationships I build with the children and their families.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Center Director in 2021?

Balance is a funny word. I would better say prioritize. As a Center Director, you wear the most hats out of anyone. Some days you are playing customer service rep. Other days you may be the cook, or a teacher, or a plumber. Being a Center Director is all about being versatile and flexible. Of course, we have our reports and deadlines we have to meet. However, you really must look at what is most important and needs to be taken care of first. Helping ease parents’ minds or checking in on how your staff is feeling (physically and emotionally) are also very crucial. I do my best to keep a weekly task list to make sure I get my things done on time. When things aren’t done, I simply put it aside for the next week, knowing that I made the best choice for my staff and families by putting them first.

Do you have any tips for new Center Directors or Assistant Directors who want to move up someday?

  1. Believe in yourself. I started with this company as an AD. I didn’t think I would be able to do the Center Director role just yet. A month later I took that leap, and I became the Center Director. A year later I was awarded Center Director of the Year. If I didn’t put faith in myself, that would have never been possible.
  2. Trust in yourself. The days can be long and very difficult. At the end of the day, you must set the negativity aside. Trust that you have done the absolute best you could today to serve your staff and families. The decisions and tasks are not always easy but trusting that it’s the right thing to do makes it easier in the end.