Founder and Director of TEAMS Learning Center
In Joy's words, "As soon as I walked into my first early childhood education class, I knew it would be my passion in life. I fell in love with what I was learning! I continued taking every class, training, and seminar on child development at two different colleges in in Monterey and Salinas California. I worked at two different Montessori programs helping me understand the levels of quality within the same field. The birth of my second son, taught me SO much more about parenting. None of the typical parenting advice and practice worked. My son had a unique personality that forced me to stop trying what I had heard and start observing what I see. He clearly told me what he needed, when I took the time to look.
During this time, I was utilizing a lot of programs from the specially designed Hartnell College of child development center. I started there as a parent co-op, then a student, then asked to be a staff member, and then 3.5 years later, a mentor - teaching others. I loved my time there! Through connections I made there, I ventured into the world of early learning centers. I learned what poor early learning education really looked like, how it could be improved with support and help from volunteers and interested parents. Higher quality was achievable when given a chance by the community.
A good friend approached me and asked me to join her in creating Avendale Child Development Center. A high quality, full time, learning center for 45 children in Seaside, CA. We started with a condemned drug building and turned it into a living philosophy of learning though play, child development and community awareness. The program was and still is, a continued success because of her dedication.
Suddenly, my life adventures took me to Wenatchee when my youngest son was only six months old. I knew no one. I decided to focus on my kids, volunteering and learning about my new town. For over a year I asked about early learning and checked out every program that was suggested. I interviewed teachers and was discouraged about what I saw. The median level of quality was so much lower than the anything I had seen before. The best place, was not as good as the worst place I'd seen in California. I knew something had to be done.
This is where the Learning Curve was created. To raise the bar for quality and give my youngest son, the best education possible. I'm proud of the community involvement and outreach. The trainings and tours we gave to area professionals, the three locations we grew to, and the hundreds of families we helped over the 9.5 years in business. This for-profit learning center had 23 men and women working together, paving the way towards early learning childhood education. In 2012, the state of Washington took away funding for mid to low-income families. This decision devastated my program and was the fatal blow that forced me to close my doors. It killed me to know that I was sending my families into a community that did not value early learning. There simply weren’t enough quality choices available.
After an agonizing year of self-discovery and healing, I returned to teaching and to Wenatchee with my mission clearer than ever. I knew I needed to open another program to model quality again, I knew that it had to be a non-profit organization and it needed to be where I could make a greater impact, so I went to work. I hired a non-profit mentor and studied non-profits, I researched the area and I came up with this smaller stepping stone model to be able to achieve the larger program one day. Hence, TEAMS Learning Center was born."