LaDonna Ellis is our new Director of Childcare Services. Read about her, her past work in the childcare development space, and the goals she hopes to accomplish in Guardian Angel’s future.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m the second youngest of 15 kids. I have a 12 year old boy named JJ. He’s in the seventh grade. I love movies, music and singing. I’m a Christian and Friday night church (at St. Louis Family Church in Chesterfield, MO) is how I recharge. I just love to have fun. I always say Monday is my favorite day because it’s a fresh start. Sometimes you mess up, but you learn from it. So, I like Mondays because it’s a new week.
Tell us a bit about your background before working at Guardian Angel:
I’ve been involved early childhood development for about 20 years. I started out as a teacher and eventually moved to leadership. I’ve directed a few childcare centers, I’ve done adjunct instructorships for different colleges. Most of my work has been in the Mid-Missouri area. Here in St. Louis, I was more involved in the Head Start program prior to working with Guardian Angel.
What were your initial impressions of Guardian Angel?
I love children and families. I’ve never been a part of such a large organization that serves so many people, but I came ready to work. I’ve found that the teachers are extremely well-seasoned. They know what to do and the foundation is strong, so the next level is easy. The longevity here is mind-boggling.
What are some new programs you’re excited about introducing at Guardian Angel?
I’m really geeked about the federal Head Start model of comprehensive care that’s been put together- I think that’s amazing. We are currently adding new teaching positions on the preschool and infant childcare side, with roles that ensure we’re bringing families together and engaging them in activities. We’ve hired a new cook [so we can start incorporating healthy nutrition into the children’s diets.]
What are some opportunities for improved outreach?
People know about us, but there’s a lot of competition with the public schools, even on the preschool side. Because of this competition, I think we need to go out more and recruit, and just do more networking in the community. Also, it’s important that the families who are already involved in our childcare services are aware of the social services that are also available to them.
What are some goals you want to accomplish during your time working at Guardian Angel?
Ideally, I’d like Guardian Angel to be the go-to training spot in every way whether that means family engagement, management, or in the classroom. We’re already on the lips of people in a positive way, but I want us to be examples and set the standards in every aspect of what we do.
What has been your favorite part of working at Guardian Angel so far?
There’s nothing like coming on site and seeing the kids. Everything we do here from nutrition, to education, we know that kids are a part of a bigger picture. We want them to know they’re loved.
The kids are amazing, but so are the staff members. It’s hard work, but the staff is willing to do whatever to help the families reach goals, in school, or in life. The people have been the most amazing part.
What’s your message to Guardian Angel parents?
For the parents here, I want them to know that it’s a privilege to be able to take care of their kids. It’s serious when you drop off your most prized gift to someone else. So, it’s privilege and an honor that they chose Guardian Angel. Even though we’re a large organization, we’re a family.