This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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SusanHi my name is Susan Norquist, and I am an education coach for the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center located in Brighton. I received my bachelor’s degree in counseling from Lyndon State College, and I am currently working on my master’s in education. I have worked for over 30 years in the social services field, half of those in early education.

I am currently enrolled in the Leadership Certificate Program offered by Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University. This program has been amazing. It has unleashed the leader in me and inspired me to share my passion for educating young children with others.

I can think of no other profession I would rather work in. Working with young children is a dream job. Where else can you walk into a room and get tons of hugs and unconditional love from charming, inquisitive children. As an education coach, I am able to work with teachers to enhance the development of their students. I assist them in setting goals for their students and for their own growth. 

I also provide professional development for all the Little Sprout schools. Early educators need to stay knowledgeable to keep up with their on-going responsibilities. Providing free and accessible trainings for them is just another added support that I can offer them.

I am often asked where I get my passion from. Well, I was extremely fortunate to have Christa McAuliffe for a teacher in high school. Mrs. McAuliffe was a pioneer in my home town of Concord, N.H. She was one of the first teachers to teach a “Women in History” class at my high school. She encouraged me to be a strong leader and an advocate for women in the workforce. She was passionate about education and made it her mission to share this passion with others.

Her passion led her to do the unthinkable and achieve her biggest dream, to take education into space. As many of you know, she was selected to be the first teacher and civilian to ride the space shuttle. Unfortunately, on January 28, 1986, she and six other astronauts died in the Challenger space shuttle explosion. I remember that day vividly and how devastating it was to all who had ever been in her presence. Her quote “I touch the future, I teach” hangs in my office and in my heart.

My future endeavors in this field are to become a great advocate for early educators. I would love to see the qualifications for early educators raised – and I would love to see these educators paid salaries that match their training and skills. I see so many wonderful, dedicated teachers leave the profession for public school or for higher paying jobs because they cannot earn enough.

To have a quality educational system, we need to have quality teachers who earn quality pay. I will be advocating for this in as many ways as I can. I am very excited to be at a point in my life when I can dedicate more time to the profession and to the teachers.

We need new leaders with innovative ideas and creative energy to construct a better system for children and their educators.