Insights From the Field – A Program Director with a passion!
By Michelle H.
Our staff’s passion for teaching lives in each of our centers and for Program Director, Alyssa Scholes, it’s no different. She lives and thrives in serving children and families. Alyssa has over 20 years of experience in child development, from infants to school age in roles ranging from teaching aide to program director.
In 2013, Alyssa joined the CDC team as a Site Supervisor for Cherry Chase in San Jose, CA. She’s earned many successes along the way, including growing into the Program Director role last year. Currently, Alyssa is responsible for the operations of 6 centers in the Bay Area.
We sat down with Alyssa earlier this month to ask her a little bit more about her career path and life at CDC.
How long have you been with CDI? Have you had any other roles/titles with us?
6 years this year – June 2013. I started at Regnart CDC as a Site Supervisor and quickly transferred over to Cherry Chase. In July 2018, I was promoted to the Program Director position. I currently oversee Regnart, Eaton, Mordock Portal, Faria, Garden Gate, and Cherry Chase centers.
Tell me about your career and educational background. What roles were you in prior to coming to CDI?
Growing up, my mom was in Early Childhood Education and in kindergarten, I declared ‘I want to be a Teacher’. I started off at junior college taking 2 child development classes. At the same time, I was also hired as teacher’s aide working with 3-year olds. I stayed and over a few years, became head teacher after finishing my 12 core units. In 1996, I moved to Kiddie Academy as a head teacher and shortly became director. In 2000, my family purchased the program and I ran it for 10 years as the owner and director. In 2010, we sold the business and shortly after, I joined the CDC team as a Site Supervisor.
What is one memory at CDC that was most impactful to your career?
For my career, it would have to be my connection with my program director as a site supervisor. She supported my growth, career, and goals. She encouraged me to pursue further classes and education to complete my degree and really helped to support me to become a program director. This support was a change of pace, and the encouragement (to reach my personal goals and dreams) is nothing like I had ever experienced before.
In addition, I’d have to say the transformation that Cherry Chase CDC went through from when I started to when I was promoted. When I started with CDC, the center was in transition with 56 kids enrolled, and over the course of 2 years we grew enrollment by nearly 150%. In the center’s growth, it was our priority to listen to our families. We also focused on our services, whether it be clubs or homework support, to best support our families. It was important to the staff that we build our community – through events, dinners, collaboration with the school and helping on campus. As a site supervisor, I also focused on building my team, setting them up with resources and supporting them to achieve their goals. At the end of the day, we were all there for the same community.
What do you enjoy most about being a PD? What’s your biggest challenge?
What I enjoy most are the communities, partnerships, families, and staff interactions. I enjoy working alongside the communities and districts. Being able to be a part of those communities and make a difference.
My biggest challenge is time – it’s important for me to be present in each program weekly.
What does a typical day look like?
Every day is different. I build out my calendar monthly. In the morning, I check emails and check-in with any necessary needs. During the day, I’m mostly spending time in programs, visiting centers, and working hands-on with staff. I also hold weekly one-on-ones with my site supervisors, as well as work to develop resources and provide support. Additionally, I lead STEM based curriculum training (maker & tinkering, digital photography/videography training, stop motion and Minecraft). STEM is a personal passion of mine.
Tell me something that you think makes our organization unique.
There’s not one something that makes us unique. We invest in our people, asking ‘where do you want to go?’, ‘let’s talk about how you can grow’.
The sheer number of families we can serve due to our size.
We have an emergent curriculum – where we cater to the interest of our children. We focus on building that ‘whole child’.