Jennifer Schroeder has taken over the duties of day care director from long-time director Jackie Thom. Thom will be continuing at the center on a part-time basis, helping Schroeder when she needs it, and she is not quite ready to say goodbye to the children.
By Melissa Anderson
“I just feel it’s time for a younger person to come in and do their thing here, and I’ll support her,” Thom said.
Schroeder was previously a classroom teacher in the Devils Lake school system for 16 years. The most challenging aspect for Schroeder is the self-confessed learning of new names and new faces. Along with that, learning the expectations of what the community has in place will also be a challenge.
“I’m excited to have something new but still working with children and helping them have an educational and fun experience at a day care,” Schroeder said. “I’m excited for the challenge.”
Schroeder is very familiar with the area, having parents from Munich and having family in Langdon. The small town atmosphere is exactly what she was looking for when she decided to make a change in careers and locations. Schroeder started her learning of the new position in late May.
“There is always a little learning curve, the manager part perhaps. I think I’m catching on pretty well,” Schroeder said.
As Schroeder looks ahead to her time at the center, she already has ideas for what she would like to implement. A new curriculum is going to be implemented for the three year olds and younger. Schroeder is big believer in making learning part of play and explained that with education systems expecting more and more from younger students, being able to give them some of those things earlier will help start them off on the right foot. In order to do this, Schroeder will be looking at “getting some more educational components involved in what we do each day”.
Schroeder will be making incremental changes to how the day care works with and prepares children while Thom had to handle the change in size. The day care has changed considerable since Thom started over 15 years ago. When she first took over the position there were less than 50 kids and only eight people on staff. Now, and especially within the last five years, the center has expanded considerably with 119 children enrolled and 30 employees to care for them.
“It’s been difficult; we try to take as many children as we can, but the fact is there is not a lot of staff that are really qualified to work at the day care. You have to have the right temperament, you have to really love the kids, and we just want to have enough staff to keep that equilibrium,” Thom said.
A big part of all these changes and progress is the supportive board. Both Schroeder and Thom expressed how, without the actively involved board, the daycare would not be where it is now.
“I feel like the board is very active where they want to be a part of what is going on here, and they are very supportive and easy to get a hold of to discuss things that are happening or that we need to discuss,” Schroeder said. “I’ve just been impressed with how well they are supportive to what we do.”
Thom would like to thank the board for allowing her to step down and search for her replacement. She also extends a thank you to the parents and past board members for all their patience and help they have given her. Thom also noted that Lacey Klingbeil taking over the handling of finances for the center has helped streamline the facility operations immensely and reduce the burden on the director.