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MnAEYC-MnSACA Member Spotlights
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Members of MnAEYC and MnSACA are the visible embodiment of our commitment to providing quality in early learning and afterschool care to the children and youth in Minnesota. It is through their desire and enthusiasm for their profession that the organization flourishes, so it is important to us to acknowledge and recognize their support and commitment.

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Lindsey Crawford, Program Manager, Fridley School-Age Care

Why did you become a MnSACA/NAA member?

Fridley Tiger Club belongs to MnSACA/NAA. It is a great opportunity for us to connect with other professionals in the field. I consider myself to be a “childcare professional.” So additionally, for me, because there is no licensefor school-age programming, I wanted to belong to a professional organization that represented the standards of quality I wanted for my childcare program.

What is your favorite MnSACA/NAA member benefit?

Fridley Tiger Club staff LOVE the MnAEYC-MnSACA Annual State Conference. It’s a chance to consult with other professionals that really understand your work world. Infant to toddler to preschool to school-age programming differs so much. We can talk, as an organization, with each other at manager meetings, but it’s so helpful to be able to engage in conversations with other school-age specific professionals.


Children are so inspiring. That’s why many of us are educators. Share one way a child has inspired you.

The one thing I always come back to with kids is the parallel relationship I have with each of them. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. I never underestimate a child’s ability to teach me something. I learn from them every day. A personal area of growth for me is my patience. I have always been a bit of an impatient person, but these kids have tested my patience and taught me patience at the same time! I encourage and challenge all of my staff, if they have a child who is particularly difficult for them to work with, to push on in forging the relationship with them. The stronger and deeper your connection is with a child, the better the quality of the relationship and the more positive your interactions will be.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part about school-age care is the varying ages I get to work with. I get to see the kids grow, mature, and mold into these amazing, unique, young individuals. This school-year is my sixth year with the program and I have kids who have come from kindergarten all the way through to middle school for the first time this year, and it has been remarkable! I also love my staff. I have such a great team that are so flexible, skilled, and engaged with children.

What three accomplishments, personal and/or professional, are you most proud of?


   1. Obtaining my supervisory position and growing and changing with the program to become who I am today, and to have helped guide what the program has become over the last several years.

   2. Getting our program MAAP accredited, and keeping it accredited with all of the many wild changes to our program!

   3. Obtaining my Master’s Degree in Social Work this past August.

Anna Freitag, Infant Teacher, Kinderberry Hill

Why did you become a MnAEYC/NAEYC member?

I was very fortunate early on in my career as an early childhood teacher to be taught the value of membership while working at a day school in Nashville, TN. The school provided the membership for each teacher, and talked about its value, which showed me how important it is to belong to a professional organization.  

What is your dream for the future of early childhood education?

First and foremost, my dream is for the children. We know how critical the early years are for development of the whole child, so I dream that all young children will have access to affordable, high-quality education during these important years. Secondly, my dream is for the teachers and other professionals in our field who facilitate this growth and development in children. I dream that we will be looked upon, respected, and valued as the professionals that we are.  

What is your favorite part of your job?

As an infant teacher, I see the most rapid change in the development of the children I teach. I love building relationships and partnering with the parents and the children themselves to help facilitate this growth during this very important stage in development. It's always so exciting to see each milestone happening. My co-teacher and I have very similar names, Anna and Annie, and what is particularly captivating to my heart at the moment is how our older infants have started to say our names to get our attention and affection!

What three accomplishments, personal and/or professional, are you most proud of?

First, I'm very proud of the fact that not only did I earn by Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education, but I did it in two years while working full time in the field. I pushed myself and worked incredibly hard to make my dream of a degree come true. 

Second, my love for teaching extends beyond early childhood and beyond our country. I get up very early in the mornings so I can also teach English online to kids in China. I love fostering positive international relationships. In 2017, I used this opportunity to work remotely as I traveled the world. To date I have been to five continents and 22 countries. 

Lastly, I am proud to be asked to be the Member Spotlight for this organization that I love.

Carol Solheid, Home Base Inclusion/Accreditation Specialist, Wayzata Public Schools

Why did you become a MnSACA/NAA member?

Once I started working in the field, it seemed important to connect with others and be part of the bigger group supporting children in an afterschool setting. Being part of the bigger group helps move the school-age care field ahead. Also, being able to connect with others doing the same kind of work is really beneficial.

What does your MnSACA/NAA membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career and influenced your work with children?

I think it is important to connect with other people in your field. There is so much shared knowledge and support within a member group. Being a part of MnSACA as both the organization and the school-age care field grow is very exciting. The training available through MnSACA helps us to better meet the needs of children in school-age programs. I have connected with many amazing people committed to school-age care and have gotten many wonderful ideas from them.

What is your favorite MnSACA/NAA member benefit?

I love the conferences and being able to see and catch up with colleagues. Also, the support provided through private trainings held at your site is a great benefit.

Children are so inspiring. That’s why many of us are educators. Share one way a child has inspired you.

Children are so honest! Every day they make me laugh! I might not be happy with what they said or did, but they still make me laugh.

What is your dream for the future of afterschool education?

My dream is that every program has access to the space they need and is able to hire strong, amazing staff so they can create new and exciting programming ideas that will challenge children.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Being with the children and sharing part of their day with them.

What three accomplishments, personal and/or professional, are you most proud of?

One accomplishment that I am proud of is helping to grow and expand afterschool programs. The need keeps increasing, so we have to think outside the box and grow with the need! I know it sounds cliché, but children are our future and we have to be there for them!

What’s your favorite book and why?

The book that keeps coming back to me is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. That book was not what I expected, but it just kept me turning the pages. I loved it!

Karen DeBoer, Region 8 Child Care Aware of Minnesota & Early Learning
Scholarship Administrator

Why did you become a NAEYC/MnAEYC member?
Every profession has its own history, terminology, and mission for its work. As an advocate for children in all early childhood settings, it is important for me to get information about the latest research, current trends, and ideas for projects and initiatives that could be replicated in our area. Becoming a NAEYC/MnAEYC member provides me access to concepts and viewpoints that increase my knowledge of young children’s development, as well as national thoughts and philosophies about the field of early childhood education. NAEYC is my connection to national and international data, views, and goals.

What does your NAEYC/MnAEYC membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career and influenced your work with young children?
As a staff person of a very small program in rural Minnesota, we do not have access to many local resources. We need to travel hours in order to participate in statewide initiatives and projects. NAEYC/MnAEYC helps me stay connected by providing access to current, well-researched information from national leaders in early childhood. My role here in Southwest Minnesota is to support and encourage early childhood educators – to take care of those who are caring for the children. I can use information I gain about latest research to inspire best practice in child care. I can be the voice of all children in all settings at community initiatives and events. NAEYC/MnAEYC membership helps me be a better-informed child care advocate.

What is your favorite NAEYC/MnAEYC member benefit?
Because I am an avid reader who is always seeking knowledge, I would have to say the Young Children magazine and access to national conferences and opportunities are my favorite NAEYC member benefits. I feel it is important to stay informed about latest trends and research. When I connect with our local early childhood educators, I share information to help them stay informed. Because we are so isolated, I feel we have a responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity to stay connected with state and national initiatives.

Young children are so inspiring. That’s why many of us are early childhood educators. Share one way a child has inspired you.
I was a volunteer providing child care at a military event. None of the volunteers had met any of the children before. One of the infants immediately bonded with one of the volunteers. Anytime this volunteer was out of the room, the infant would cry. As soon as the volunteer picked up the infant, the infant would stop crying. It was fascinating! It was a powerful demonstration of the impact one individual can have on a child. We, as early childhood educators, have an opportunity to make the difference in children’s lives. We need to take our role with young children seriously – it can and DOES make a difference.

What is your dream for the future of early childhood education?
My dream is for early childhood education to be recognized as a legitimate profession, with compensation equal to its importance. I want parents to have the freedom to choose the setting that is right for their child – and not base that decision on cost. I want something to make up the difference between what parents can pay and what programs can “afford” to charge. I want child care to offer a livable wage, not a supplemental income. Learning begins at birth – I dream of a time when as much investment is made available to children ages 0-3 as there is for children ages 4-5.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is being able to make a difference in the lives of the early childhood educators who are on the front-line working with children every day. I see my role as “caring for those who care for the children.” I am their biggest advocate, champion, and supporter. I truly feel I can impact the lives of children and their families by encouraging and reinforcing quality in their child’s caregiver. Child care can be very isolating. I love the relationships I have been able to develop and the support I am able to provide. I love being able to help when help is needed.

What three accomplishments, personal and/or professional, are you most proud of?
Personally, I am most proud of my children. The work of early childhood advocacy is not easy work. Working with child care providers means many, many nights and Saturdays away from my home and family. Through the support of our wonderful child care providers and programs throughout the years, I have two empathic, compassionate, hard-working young adults who are successful on their own. Our family would not be who we are without child care’s positive impact.
Professionally, I am most proud of the child care system we have in place in Southwest Minnesota, a system I have been a part of since 1989. There are almost 6,000 children being cared for in the nine counties of Southwest Minnesota – almost 500 early childhood settings! We have a strong mixed delivery system, with each type of care meeting a need or filling a role in that community. I am proud to be a part of a support system that provides resources, technical assistance, and encouragement to people who are making a difference in children’s lives every day.

What’s your favorite book and why?
One of my favorite fictional books is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It is one of my favorite “go-to” books when I need a break from educational or non-fiction books and articles. As a resident of a rural community, I think I relate to the struggles Francie goes through and can appreciate her need to be resourceful. The book takes place in the early 1900’s. At times, it is reminder of how far we have come, at others, it is a reminder of how far we still have to go.

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