by Susan Werley Slater
Susan Werley Slater is Jumpstart’s former Chief Program Officer. She has over ten years of experience designing and implementing innovative program models in the field of early childhood education.
When I first joined Jumpstart eight years ago as a Site Manager at Tufts University, I fell in love with the magic of Jumpstart’s program. I’ve always been a teacher at heart, and when I saw for myself the powerful mix of passionate college students and preschool children just bursting with potential, I knew Jumpstart had gotten something right.
There’s something about the energy Jumpstart brings to a classroom. There’s something about the connections we’re able to nurture between caring adults and preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. If I had to give it a name, I would probably call that “something” the ripple effect.
From my time directly in preschools and at the universities that provide us with our incredible college student Corps members, to my most recent position as Executive Director of Jumpstart’s Northeast Region, I’ve seen the Jumpstart ripple effect in more ways than I can count. I was once told by a parent that the Jumpstart program had not only helped her son, but also her other two children back at home. The entire family benefitted from the love of learning instilled in one Jumpstart child. I’ve seen Corps members go on to become teachers, pediatricians, policymakers—all feeling compelled to develop into champions of young children in their own way.
That’s the Jumpstart ripple effect. While we can measure the impact we have on a single young child during a single school year (and trust me, we measure everything), we can’t possibly appreciate the magnitude of Jumpstart’s impact on the future of our Corps members, the well-being of communities we serve, and the trajectory of early childhood education across America.
As Jumpstart’s new Chief Program Officer, I couldn’t be more excited about where we stand today and where we’re headed in the years to come. The field of early education is primed and ready for change. The next ten years will be a defining period for early education in America, and Jumpstart won’t be making ripples for much longer. We’ll be making waves.