Great Lakes region “mama”

Vicki Sheets (far left) with her daughter and some of her "other kids" at Parent Night at her daughter's high school.

Vicki Sheets (far left) with her daughter and some of her “other kids” at Parent Night at her daughter’s high school.

Was there a woman in your childhood who treated you like one of her own? Vicki Sheets, executive assistant to Great Lakes Regional Vice President Michael Canavin, is one of those quintessential “mamas.” She stepped into that position at home – being the fifth in an extended family of 12 children – so it was only natural that she’d take on that role at a center, and later regional level.

“I’m that type of person [who says], ‘Can I help you with that? You look like you need a hand,” she said.

A series of family hardships – her mother died when Sheets started college and her father lost his job soon after that tragedy – sent Sheets out into the working world at a young age. She started her early childhood education career in the late 1980s as a toddler teacher at a “mom & pop” center. Although she loved the job, she couldn’t stand the center, leaving for a career at a bridal shop (she hated it). When her then boyfriend (now husband) spotted a KinderCare job posting for a Twos teacher in Dayton, Ohio, he encouraged her to apply, reminding her that she loved children.

Within six months of starting her new career at KinderCare, Sheets was promoted to assistant director. Six months later her district manager sent her to a center that needed a temporary director. The idea was that Sheets would lend a hand for a few months just to sort out the books. She turned the center around and earned another promotion to center director. (That center remains one of the top centers in the district nearly three decades later.)

Vicki shortly after her promotion to CD in 1989.

Vicki shortly after her promotion to CD in 1989.

Sheets stayed a center director for 10 years, until her oldest child started kindergarten. At the time there weren’t any KinderCare centers in her area with before- and after-school programs, so she quit to be able to accommodate her son’s school schedule.

Before long her district manager enticed her to return – this time to administrative role with a more flexible schedule. When Knowledge Learning Corporation bought KinderCare in 2004, he offered her a choice between becoming a district manager or an executive assistant. She choose the EA role, a natural fit given her understanding of the teacher and center director perspective. In doing so, she became the cog that keeps the region going. District managers like Michael Potts call her supportive, responsive, and caring, while Canavin said Sheets was “critical” during his transition to KinderCare Education last spring.

“Her long experience with our organization in a number of positions provided me with great insight into, which allowed me to very quickly understand my role and where I could impact the organization in a meaningful way fast. She was strong enough to help keep me from getting into to many non-productive areas of the business early on, because she had the comfort and courage to shoot straight with me. My transition could not have been easier or better without her partnership and her ability to handle all the new stuff that I have thrown at her!”

Outside of her region Sheets is the baseball mom for the local high school team her husband coaches, a trivia fiend (her family “covers the bases nicely” at a weekly trivia gathering), and a youth minister. She’s also rarely found without a crochet project and would like to expand her scrapbooking hobby (if only her daughter would kindly move out of her room).

One thing is certain though – no matter when her youngest leaves the nest, Sheets will continue to fill that mama role for anyone who needs a little extra love and care.

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