Amy O’Leary speaking at the Massachusetts State House. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children


If you’re happy and you know it, as the classic preschool song goes, clap your hands — and be sure to read Amy O’Leary’s first column for Young Children, a publication of NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children).

Amy — NAEYC’s governing board president and the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign — explains in the column how she has used the strategies that she learned as a preschool teacher to motivate adults — whether they are funders, legislators, or other early educators.

“I led sing-alongs in conference rooms across Boston with executives at large banks and partners at law firms. It was my way of bringing a little bit of the early education world into places that were new to me and intimidating.”

As president, Amy’s attention is on the future. She writes:

“We need to think about what could be and not focus only on what has already been.”

“One of the greatest opportunities for our early education field is also one of our greatest challenges: our rich, long history serving children and families in so many different and important ways can sometimes be an obstacle as we consider how to move forward. We need to honor the past but push ourselves to think boldly about the future.”

“This is a critical and exciting time for early education in our country. For far too long, early childhood educators have been overlooked and undervalued. Together, we will change that.”

As Amy explains, early educators should have higher salaries, improved training, and more professional respect. Some of this work is underway as cities, states, and the federal government slowly increase investments in early education and early educators. But a quick glance at other countries makes it clear that there is a lot more progress to be made.

“My personal mission is to empower early educators and get them involved in advocacy, policy, and research.”

Be sure to follow Amy’s columns. They promise to be upbeat and inspiring calls for action. As Amy says:

“We need to believe in ourselves and be willing to think differently about the future. We can do it!”