Welcome to our PHLpreK Provider Spotlight! This series showcases the great work of providers at City-funded pre-K programs across Philadelphia.

We recently talked with Melissa Blatz, Program Director at Beautiful Beginnings Childcare Center, about how her centers support Philadelphia’s youngest learners, while creating a healthy workspace for those she employs. With locations in Bustleton and Frankford, Melissa and her team have been a part of the PHLpreK community since early 2017.

PHLpreK: What would you say has been the secret to success for your team?Melissa Blatz (MB): The secret to success in our program has been leaning on our resources.  We truly embrace the help and support that is provided through the PHLpreK system. We embrace bringing in other professionals to support our children and families. We follow the motto, “It takes a village…”

PHLpreK: What is something you are doing to support your staff right now?MB: We truly value the hard work and effort our teachers bring to the classroom every day.  They are passionate about doing everything in their power to support their families’ needs. We made the decision this year: in lieu of our staff development day that is held during Spring Break week, we gave our team a mental health day. They were provided with information about the importance of mental health and assigned the task to do something for themselves. Everyone returned relaxed and ready to dive back in.

We believe in nurturing our team. This may be as simple as breakfast or lunch, a five-minute break, access to our self-care basket stocked with lotions and chocolate, or just time outside of the classroom to catch up. We recognize the responsibilities of Early Childhood Educators as hard work. We are taking care of others for our profession; they need to take care of themselves as well. Additionally, teachers need to be fully prepared to support their students. We ensure this through high quality professional development, incredible coaching support through First Up and SPARK, as well as leadership support.

PHLpreK: And how has being a part of the PHLpreK community benefited you, your program, and your team?MB: The PHLpreK Community has allowed access to our programs for over 80 children. We are able to support families who may not have access to our center due to funding concerns. This has allowed our program to expand our high-quality curriculum and our teachers to have access to resources they would not have without the partnership of PHLpreK.

Additionally, I value the networking opportunities with other providers. I enjoy learning from other professionals in the same field and brainstorm strategies to better serve our city.

PHLpreK: Finally, what is a quote that has helped you overcome struggles while you built your program?MB: “If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.” – Barbara Colorose, an internationally recognized speaker and author on parenting and teaching.

PHLpreK: Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything else you want to add before we end? MB: Since partnering with PHLpreK in January 2017, Beautiful Beginnings has grown in our ability to provide high quality pre-kindergarten education in very specific ways. We have:

  • Furthered our teacher’s professional development through various credit bearing coursework offered by PHLpreK.
  • Strengthened our curriculum training for all teaching staff in further developing their implementation of the Creative Curriculum by expanding and offering further professional development in the tool.
  •  Provided a plethora of resources to the children and families we serve including preparing for kindergarten transition.

In addition to these strengths and program improvements, we have been able to increase staff wages which directly has a positive impact on staff retention and morale – ensuring that we provide the consistent care our children need.