The two most important values center director and 2014 Best in Class honoree Krissy Kaufmann tries to instill in each of her teachers are communication and empathy: two values that have served her well these past few months as her center community faced a challenging remodel.
“Engaging with families every single day is so important to make a center successful,” Krissy said. “It’s important to initiate conversations with parents about their child. Parents need to know that their child is in an environment that is safe and fun and that they’re with staff who truly care about every single child and family.”
But after a fire damaged the Old Bridge KinderCare, Krissy’s communications skills and family relationships were put to the test. The fire was after-hours and nobody was injured, but changes in the city’s building code and other issues delayed the repairs longer than anybody expected. A planned October re-open soon shifted to December, testing the patience of a strong, active parent community who loved their center, but were less than thrilled about the delay in its reopening.
“Her families are her priority,” explained Lisa Anthony, Krissy’s district manager. “This has certainly been witnessed in her family retention during the displacement. Almost all have stayed with us, at another location, because of the trust and confidence they have in Krissy and her team.”
The fact is the families may be frustrated in the moment, but so many have said they will travel out of their way because they have so much love and appreciation for their teachers, and the quality of the program offered at Old Bridge KinderCare. Amid complaints about construction delays, parents still praise Krissy and the teachers.
In her Best in Class interview Krissy said her advice to other CDs would be to “put yourself in your parents’ shoes and understand how they really feel.”
Krissy has plenty of empathy for her families and their frustrations these days – she and her staff also wanted to go back to their normal routine at Old Bridge. In the meantime the best Krissy can offer is strong communication. Krissy and Lisa partnered with leaders in facilities, communications, Regional Vice President Sheila Niehaus, and others to provide families a weekly construction update.
Her team knows that customer service and engagement go hand-in-hand because Krissy models that behavior.
“Krissy exemplifies the role of a true leader, not just a manager,” Lisa said. “She is truly dedicated and responds to questions and/or concerns immediately. Even when it comes to after hours or over the weekend, she will contact her families when it is convenient for them.”