Tracy List, Executive Director and Rosanna, FranDelJA Graduate

Originally, twenty years ago, when I started working at FranDelJA, I was planning on working here for two months. (That was in July 2002.) I saw something back then that felt tangible – something that I could put my hands to, like rich soil for a gardener. There were inherent strengths in the dream that Sandra and Gladys had. What they wanted to bring to the community was valuable! Gladys kept giving me new jobs to do, to bring my strengths to the organization, and I was humbled as I began to realize there was room for me to contribute to the dream that would serve so many families.

FranDelJA is such a great place for children and their families! The world has changed a lot from when all of us started in this business. Some of our staff is new (so this is what you know), but for some of our teachers, site supervisors and me, the world has changed, and we have done everything that we can to change with it, to keep kids safe, to keep kids protected, to keep kids having a joy of learning. Group care is hard. It’s hard to let someone take care of your children and having a safe place for parents learning to advocate for their families is challenging, and it can feel “yucky” sometimes. I don’t think it’s intuitive, at least it hasn’t been for me. My daughter was with me at FranDelJA for five years until she graduated from preschool (well until Covid and we had to do drive-by graduations). Things were not as I expected after all these years of working with kids and families, but as I sent her off to public school, I wasn’t even allowed on the premises (because of Covid), and it was hard not knowing what was happening during her day. I couldn’t just drop-in and check on her. Our families feel that every day, as they trust us with their children. We need to be worthy of that trust!

We need to be the very best we can be! We need to be open to learn from each other. We need to listen to our site supervisors when they give input, with the knowledge and appreciation for the skills they have obtained in their years of service. That’s what we want for FranDelJA! A place that feels like family, because that’s what FranDelJA was founded on – sisters who wanted to do something great for their community. It’s made from the names of children – of Sandra’s children, of Gladys’ nieces and nephew. It’s family and we want to love like family and be as professional and skilled as we can be in this field.

We want FranDelJA to always be a place where children know what the boundaries are, but have an environment that is safe and warm, inviting, and rich with learning opportunities. A place where children can make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, where they can run and jump, and play, and take risks, and feel comfortable, safe, and confident. We want a place where teachers reach out to them and check on them to see if they’re okay. A place where teachers initiate conversation because then they’ll know how to initiate conversation; where teachers start play because then they’ll learn how to start play. Where teachers model language and appreciation for diversity, so that they will have language and appreciation for diversity. A place where teachers are creative and fun, so that the children can feel free to express their creativity and have fun! A place where teachers read and write and make literacy visible, so that children have an understanding and a comprehension of literacy. A place where there are words, letters, pictures, and things that children recognize on the walls; where there is a schedule that enables the children to predict and know what’s going to happen next, where they feel welcomed every single day. It is no small task, but it is the challenge before us as we continue to strive and support families in the challenging season before us!


You must be logged in to post a comment.