When Amber Berkemeijer, director of a nationally accredited KinderCare center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, attending a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) public policy forum in early March, she had no idea it would lead to her center hosting state Senator Matt Smith later in the month. During the forum a Pennsylvania NAEYC representative asked if Amber would be interested in hosting the senator – who serves on the Basic Education Funding Commission – and Amber didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“It’s always good for our legislators to see what a high-quality center looks like,” she said. “It shows [them] why it is important to invest in early childhood care and education.”
Amber joined the center in September 2013 and says the team has come a long way in the past 18 months and that teachers and staff were excited and honored to show their wonderful center as well as their enthusiasm for their work to the Senator.
During his visit Senator Smith read The Pigeon Needs A Bath to the kindergarten prep class. The children loved the Senator’s story time and when he finished the book they presented him with a framed list of “10 things we love about KinderCare.” After story time Senator Smith moved on to the infant and toddler classrooms to join in Wet and Messy Wednesday. Senator Smith also spoke with Amber and John Kelly, Knowledge Universe lead subsidy tuition field coordinator, about the positive impact child care subsidies and the reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant have on early childhood education.
During his visit Amber and her staff learned the Senator’s assistant attended their center as a child. Her preschool teacher, Ms. Jamie, still teaches at the Bridgeville center.