For Whitney Connolly, opening the new Learning Garden Daycare in her Gloucester, MA home is truly the culmination of a life-long passion. “My love for kids actually started when I was a kid,” she laughs, explaining that she began babysitting in her neighborhood when she was just ten years old.
Those early experiences inspired Whitney to pursue a career in public service—earning a degree in human services and working for many years with families in homeless shelters. But Whitney says she always felt like something was missing. So when her daughter’s elementary school needed assistant teachers, she jumped at the opportunity.
“As soon as I started working at the school, I knew it was the right decision,” Whitney explains. “For me, the joy of working with kids is watching them learn. Whether it’s sitting up for the first time, reading, or riding a bike, I just love sharing those moments with them.”
In child care, Whitney has finally found the rewarding career she was searching for. Even on the most challenging days, she says she loves the work—and overcoming challenges is sometimes the most satisfying part. “When I was working in the special needs classroom at the school, there was a young girl who was struggling to put her shoes on by herself,” says Whitney. “She wanted to do it so badly. Then, one day, she did! She was so happy; it meant the absolute world to her.”
To encourage these types of discoveries and accomplishments, Learning Garden Daycare’s daily activities focus on learning in ways that are fun and engaging. “I like to do a lot of teaching through play,” says Whitney. “I think it’s important to get down on their level. It helps the kids connect with me, and just as importantly, I can connect with them and earn their trust.”
A licensed home daycare (through the Massachusetts’s Department of Early Education and Care), Learning Garden Daycare is currently accepting applications for children ages three months to five years—and interested parents should act quickly to secure a spot. As a NeighborSchools Provider, Whitney has a team of family child care experts marketing her program, creating schedules and budgets, and otherwise managing business systems. With NeighborSchools’ partnership, Whitney can commit her full energy to support local children and families.
“I’m nervous, but in the very best way,” says Whitney. “I can’t wait to get going.”