Each month, PHLpreK and The Office of Children and Families recognize one of our many participating providers. This spotlight showcases and applauds the great work providers are implementing through the city-funded pre-K initiative and programs across Philadelphia.

This month we highlight Olympik Tots located in Chinatown. Owner Mae Lee and her staff have been a part of the PHLpreK community since the 2019 school year.

We recently interviewed Mae Lee about how her center supports Philadelphia’s youngest learners while creating a healthy workspace for those she employs:

PHLpreK: How has being a part of the PHLpreK community benefited you, your program, and your team?

Mae Lee (ML): The beauty of the PHLpreK program is allowing us to provide high-quality early childhood education to all families regardless of income. This program grants access to Philadelphia families who have multiple children and are unqualified for other programs that have income limitations.  PHLpreK supports different families’ dynamics without having to sacrifice careers and child early education. It has allowed our program to expand our high-quality curriculum and gain access to valuable resources and classroom coaching without the partnership of PHLpreK.

PHLpreK: What would you say has been the secret to success for your team?

ML: The secret to success for our team is being respectful, having effective communication, persevering, and being patient with children and teachers. As a team, we collaborate with teachers, children, and families to support them as a whole and individually.

PHLpreK: What is something you are doing to support your staff right now?

ML: We recognize the responsibilities of early educators are hard work and underappreciated. Therefore, we value their hard work and dedication to nurturing, guiding, and teaching young children. We support our teachers through coaching and classroom support; recognizing their strengths while helping them to work on their weaknesses; actively listening and motivating them to self-achievement with the help of the T.E.A.C.H program. We teach our teachers to work smarter and not harder. There are many ways we show our teachers how much we appreciate their presence. Here are some of the ways: we give bonuses and recognition during children move-up ceremony; we go to Happy Hours; we have holiday dinners with teachers and their families.

PHLpreK: What does “high-quality” mean to you?

ML: “High-quality” means differently to different centers. However, we share a similar vision of what a high-quality center should appear like, such as the center’s presentation, teachers’ positive interaction with children, and providing an active, hands-on learning experience. Early-educator goals should be building a strong academic foundation and social-emotional development to allow children to succeed as they grow and explore the world.

PHLpreK: What is your hope for the children and families you serve?

ML: Our hope for our children and families recognizes the results of our implemented mission to provide high-quality programs and services that support the development of children and their families.