Sep 14, 2016Message of the Week
When you think of the word superhero, you often equate it with someone who has super powers and is always saving the world. For some, the super power is caring for and educating young children and the saving is not of the world but a few. Springfield has many who could fit the description but one stands out from the crowd with her dedication to the children in her in-home childcare business, to fellow childcare providers and the greater community — Rachel Hunter.
She was recently one of four Vermont residents to be recognized as an Early Childhood Superhero for “going above and beyond to help young children reach their full potential,” according to a press release from Let’s Grow Kids.
Hunter, a mother of five, doesn’t see herself as a superhero.
“I wish they’d chosen another name for it,” she said. “I’m just doing what I do.”
“It is quite an honor to be nominated,” Hunter continued. “I didn’t expect to be nominated.”
The nomination came from Ellen Taetzsch, coordinator for the Springfield Building Bright Futures Regional Council.
“Rachel is a jack of all trades. She has her hands in everything related to kids,” said Taetzsch. “She cares so much about the children and families. Rachel understand that it has to be a holistic view.
“She is an inspiration to me,” she continued. “We wouldn’t have been able to get some of the grants we’ve gotten if it hadn’t been for her.”
Hunter is a home-based child care provider who has been working in the early childhood field for 16 years. Additionally, she is a mentor in the Vermont Birth to Five’s mentoring program, which matches seasoned early childhood professionals with less experienced child care providers seeking support.
“As a mentor, I support registered childcare providers. I meet with them to help them navigate the system and obtain their goal by helping them find the resources they need. Sometimes I am the resource they need,” said Hunter.
In the community, Hunter participates in the Springfield Building Bright Futures Regional Council and serves on an oversight committee for Vermont’s quality recognition and improvement system for early care and learning programs known as STARS (STep Ahead Recognition System).
She also serves on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care.
“I hope we can get to a point where all children can access quality care, that families can afford it and that they don't have to choose sub-standard care to pay the mortgage.”
“Early Childhood Superheroes understand what’s at stake when our children don’t have access to high-quality, early care and learning opportunities. They are working hard every day to address Vermont’s serious shortage of high-quality, affordable child care and they each deserve to be recognized for what they do to support Vermont’s youngest children,” said Let’s Grow Kids Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire.
The selection of Early Childhood Superheroes followed a statewide call for nominations of unsung heroes among educators, child care professionals, parents, grandparents, volunteers, business peoples, policymakers, civic leaders and clergy. From the nominations, a panel of early childhood experts representing Building Bright Futures, Vermont Birth to Five, the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance and Let's Grow Kids selected four Vermonters from various regions of the state who have demonstrated a commitment to the success of Vermont’s youngest children through “above and beyond” contributions to children’s lives.