Kim Barrett joins our community as the new director of the historic Early Learning Center at Family ACCESS of Newton in May 2022, becoming part of a tradition of serving children and families in Newton for over 100 years.
A History of Advocacy
The path to working in early childhood began from the beginning for Kim Barrett.
“I always wanted to work with children and I always knew that I would. At first, I wanted to be a pediatrician and then later I wanted to be a social worker. It was only once I tried working in an early childhood classroom when I was in college that I fell in love with it. I knew there was nothing else for me, and that was my career.”
Kim’s path has included work in shelters with victims of domestic violence and a stint as a Child Advocate, but she missed working directly with children and families daily. “The perfect spot, the perfect job for me, was as a program director.”
A Safe, Loving Environment
What does Kim like most about her job?
“Children have such a fresh, honest view of the world. I love interacting with the children, families, and teachers and learning about people.”
Kim is also a parent, and this influences her work every day.
“I’ve always been interested in creating an environment that embraced everyone where they were, but being a parent has helped me understand how challenging it is to find the balance, to find that sweet spot between work and family. That space between growing yourself and supporting your children and family. The experience of being a parent made me more compassionate, more understanding of families and how hard the job of being a parent is.”
A Willingness to Learn
How does Kim describe her work?
“Really, what I do in my work is I provide support to teachers, families, and children. I do whatever needs to be done so everyone is safe and has the opportunity to be successful, comfortable, and learn.”
What does she like best about working with educators? Their love of children, their creativity of thinking, and willingness to learn alongside the children.
The Importance of Being Together
The critical nature of the work that early childhood educators do each day has become more focused over the past two years when we were all faced with a global pandemic. Kim, who works with children and families in Wayland, MA, has found even greater clarity around what is essential.
“The work in early childhood is so foundational. It is important for children to feel safe, loved, and happy as they learn and grow. This work matters. It’s really important to keeping the world going. That’s what COVID has also taught us.”
The challenges of the past two years have helped her gain a greater appreciation for being together in person. It gave us all, she says, an opportunity to be more flexible, pivot, and think creatively as a field about how to best support families.
She will bring that fresh perspective to her work at the Early Learning Center.
A Foundation in Teaching
Kim is also continuing a family tradition as she moves into her new role as Program Director of the Early Learning Center; her husband is a music teacher, and her mother was a preschool teacher. Her greatest influence as a child was her mother.
“When I look back, all the things she did with us were teachable moments. Even today, my mom is still experiencing, learning, and growing. My greatest hope is that I am more like her as I grow older.”
The Family ACCESS Early Learning Center (ELC) serves up to 144 children each year in a NAEYC-accredited, inclusive care and preschool education setting for children from infant through Pre-K, with 20% slots subsidized for low-income families.
To learn more about the program, log on to www.familyaccess.org.