Monday, August 25, 2008

Sign up now for AZ early childhood director’s conference

Most days Tempe preschool director Peggy Throntveit has more than 135 youngsters under her charge.

She has 6-week-old infants barely able to hold their head, demanding 2-year-olds and rambunctious preschoolers.

On top of that she has books to keep, employees to manage and dozens of state and federal regulations to maintain.

Sometimes her job is nearly overwhelming, as she tries to focus on the needs of her young charges and the demands of running a small business.

But she’s found some help. She recently completed education coursework in early childhood education for her CDA at Rio Salado College and plans on attending a special new conference for folks just like her.

This September Rio Salado College will unveil its new academy for early childhood administrators with a special kickoff event at the Arizona Director’s Conference. Called the Arizona Director’s Academy, conference participants will learn about this is a 12-month experience that will allow directors to earn a degree or certificate in early childhood business or administration.

Designed to give childcare center directors and administrators the skills and education to manage a successful childcare center the academy is unique.

While there are often many courses and classes in early childhood education there is relatively little instruction for administrators who need to run a business but also take care of children, said Rene Manning Program Manager for the Early Childhood & Human Development Undergraduate Studies at Rio Salado College.

Seating is limited for the academy which will keep class size small for better interaction from participants.

Included at the conference will be Arizona experts talking about recruiting and hiring staff, licensure and regulation. Additionally topics on motivating staff, organizational and community leadership and other subjects directly related to running a successful childcare center will be addressed.

Topics addressing specific needs of childcare administrators in Arizona will make the conference especially worthwhile.

“There may be national conferences for childcare administrators but many of the strategies presented don’t work in Arizona with our regulations and focused initiatives,” Manning said.

The small informal conference will also allow childcare administrators to develop a network of others with similar issues. Childcare center administrators often feel isolated stretching to meet the needs of centers open 14 to 16 hours a day.

“Directors don’t have time to create their own network,” said Manning.

Also included in the conference will be helpful information for dealing with the human resources side of running a childcare center including working with women. Statistics show the industry is female dominated with a ratio of 85 percent women. Also contributing to the challenge is staff members ranging in age from those as young as 16 to those edging towards retirement.

“We are working with multiple generations both as employees and parents and families,” Manning said.

But Manning said the most important thing is for administrators to realize there are professional educational opportunities for childcare directors and assistant directors.

“Academy participants will also complete coursework needed to meet national accreditation standards for program director/administrator.”

For more information about the Arizona Director’s Conference or Academy go to click on Training and conferences or call 480-517-8106. The last day to register for the conference is September 17.

Rio Salado also has an extensive list of early childhood programs and course offerings all of which are offered online.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For course registration or more information about programs call 480-517-8540 or go to