Championing Equitable Early Childhood Education with Danielle D. Jordan
August 15, 2023
Championing Equitable Early Childhood Education with Danielle D. Jordan

Think about the tremendous growth and learning that happens during the first five years of a child’s life. These years are a foundation for future success, yet there’s often a gap in resources and support.

Thankfully, in a world where government funding for early childhood education often falls short, there are still many out there advocating for comprehensive educational support.

This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Danielle Jordan, a 20-year educational leader who supports youth in the Chicago area. We discuss the challenge of expanding universal pre-K programs to include essential services for children aged zero to three years old and why early childhood education goes beyond mere babysitting, playing a pivotal role in developmental learning.

Everyone should be proactive advocates for increased funding and equitable access to quality education and Danielle shares how to empower parents through engagement and committees and highlights parents’ role in supporting their child’s educational journey.

About Danielle D. Jordan:

Danielle D. Jordan, M.S., M.A. Ed., Director, oversees the implementation of our early childhood program at the Start Early’s Educare Chicago school in the Grand Boulevard community. With more than 20 years of experience, Danielle supported early childhood teachers and support staff with planning, coordinating, and implementing education programs. Ms. Jordan holds several credentials, certifications and licensures in the field of Early Childhood Education along with a master’s degree in Child and Family studies from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education from University of Illinois at Chicago. Danielle has held various positions within the early childhood development field. She continues to be an advocate for quality early childhood education.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:17] – Where Danielle’s journey began
[3:59] – How Danielle’s personal experience ignited her passion for early childhood development
[5:45] – Understanding the importance of Head Start and its impact on families in need of assistance and support
[10:06] – Wraparound services offered by Headstart
[16:13] – “Grow your own” approach
[20:51] – Maintaining eligibility criteria and supporting families as they transition in and out of the program
[23:46] – Challenges of finding affordable quality child care
[26:15] – The role of universities in training future educators and advocates for early childhood education
[30:58] – Advocating for early childhood education
[34:12] – Turbo Time
[36:48] – A powerful message about understanding and respecting the rapid development of children aged zero to five
[43:41] – Danielle’s Magic Wand
[45:21] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Hi Danielle, it is good to have you on Education Evolution today.

Danielle Jordan 1:12
I am so honored to be here as a guest. So likewise.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:17
And listeners today I’m chatting with Danielle Jordan. Danielle directs one of the Start earliest Headstart and early headstart schools in the Chicagoland area. Let’s dive in. Danielle, when we talk about education, we often think K 12, or college. So how did this journey begin for you to become an advocate for our infant and toddler learners.

Danielle Jordan 1:44
I am a headstart child. So my very first start with learning I was at a headstart program. And since then, I’ve just been intrigued with early learning. When I was in school, when I was a headstart I shared with my younger sister What we learned, she was able to come with me to head start to drop me off, but sometimes she stayed even though she was supposed to. And it just kind of ignited a fire in me that in my family as well. You could be a pediatrician, we all know about teachers, even my doctor, he was like, Well, you know, you work with little kids, are you a little money? And I was like, Well, okay, let me look into pediatrics. And I went to Northern Illinois University, and one of the prerequisites was that you had to take a child development class, John bland, was my teacher there. And the way he talked about families and children and the first five years of learning, I was like, Well, no more premium for me, I fell in love. And he was just like, experiencing his start all over, wanting to share what I’ve learned. And through that program at NIU, which is family, consumer Nutritional Sciences, I learned so much about human development, from womb to tomb is what they call it. And I just really found out the importance of the first five years and how essential it is to our learning. And ever since I’ve been an advocate, particularly early in my career specialized in interacting with mothers and infants, and just kind of really thinking about, hey, what support do you need? What does the first couple of months look like when you’re adjusting to have a new human being that you grew up? In your home with you? What services can we offer to support you? How can we make your first experience with trusting your child to somebody else, which was Start your child’s whole education career, so I really dove deep into looking at that parent, particularly infant toddler experience and what I can do as a protect practitioner, as a specialist to Glacier there will sit and count to all kind of barriers, people didn’t understand what I did. It was like so you’re a babysitter. I was like, oh, excuse you. Did you know what happens in the first five years? Do you remember if you were a parent, how you needed some help, and you have somebody that can advocate for you partner with you to make sure that your child is learning that you’re learning. And that sparked attitude, I will say, where I get indignant of sometimes we’ve upcycled listen to imagine you at your age learning your world, you see your world from being arms of your mother, and then now you’re crawling around Puppets and Stuff. And then you stand up, and you get the freedom to move wherever you want to take in all of that in in steel trying to learn how to eat, how to ask for what you need, how to advocate for yourself. All this happens in the first five years, and who’s there to help. It’s me. So if you want to define it as babysitting, I am the best babysitter that your baby will ever have. Because I’m going to watch your baby. I’m going to listen to your baby I’m going to sit with you. So we all babysit And then here, you’re gonna baby say that we’re going to have some intentionality. And that’s really what drew me to this field while I’m still present, with mentoring teachers describing and talking about the work with a passion that hopefully ignites and how somebody else like me, this started off with just having that positive experience with teachers remembering home visits when they actually came and visited me at home and play games, and play with me and my mom together. So we can learn how to work and learn. So those experiences were golden to me. And when I think about it, I get a warm and fuzzy inside, and it just really reignite the fire that I have for early childhood development.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:45
So your passion shines, Danielle, like I can see it. And, you know, when my daughter was born, the pediatrician had a group vaccination when they had to have their three weeks, six, whatever the intervals were, and a little class with that. And it was so helpful. I mean, I read all of these books, and I had nephews and nieces. But there was so much I didn’t know. And like there was more training available for how to give birth than there was with what to do once the baby was born. So those classes were so vital, and the pediatrician knew what developmental levels a child should be at each age. Because I didn’t know is my child talking slate early, what’s going on? Is everything. Okay? So what you do is provide your bridge because there’s a missing, there’s a missing piece of information. And I had four years of college to teach kids, I mean, parents that have them the other 16 hours of the day don’t necessarily have any training. So what you’re doing is so important, and I love that you’re so on fire for it. Thank you. Thank you. Can you tell us in case any of our listeners don’t know what is Headstart?

Danielle Jordan 7:03
So Headstart is a federal funded program. I can just go off of my experience, my family, we lived in Chicago, and during the time we had, we were relocated, a lot of some of our housing units were torn down or you removed, or like my family, my father was able to get a better job. And so it was a push to move to the suburbs. Once we were there. We were pretty much one of the first couple of African American families that moved into our neighborhood. And it was, it was a lot of us that came a lot of people that was relocated from what they knew to collect with be together. The community recognize that and they started a headstart program. So this program started in one of the neighboring churches. So it was a section of the church that they set up to house we had two Headstart rooms that I remember vividly, and we were in our neighborhood store, and they had the teachers when they were recruiting, which we still actively do with hair start. And they stopped my mom and asked if she knew what her child is capable of doing. I asked her this, I don’t remember this. And from then they set up a home visit with us to help my mom get enrolled. And so through that is started our Headstart program, Headstart program offered half day services for families, we qualify, because I we were sickly kids, so I had asthma, and there’s different criterias that each family that’s interested Headstart must meet currently now it is really looking at income to make sure that the family can qualify for Headstart. There’s other factors homelessness, if you have a child that have a special need if you are awarded a state meaning you are in a foster care system. So all of that kind of met the criteria for me in the 80s. You know, we were in a neighborhood was the income ours was fairly on the lower side. So we qualified as well as having health challenges. I met kids that I still know today. It was a family reunion because so many of us was displaced. Some had to move some move. You know, I actually found and saw people that look like me, my teacher. Well, she wasn’t a teacher. She was our kitchen, a kitchen, cook, our chef, her son ended up being my eighth grade teacher for Miss Fisher. And so we all grow collectively as a community and that started in Headstart and so that was the base. It was opportunity for parents to have a program that can give them some assistance. It helped us build the social capital within this neighborhood because we all were collectively there. I still remember Miss Diaz, Miss Fisher, we had a way of knowing how to transition to the other schools that were in our neighborhood and we actually went together so they helped us with our transition plan. And that’s what we’re still doing today in Headstart federally funded, we’re able to recruit families that meet the criteria. Once they’re there, we offer wraparound services. So not only do you have education, we also have family advocates, our family support team, if you need any assistance when navigating through if your child has a specialized Individual Education player, which is IEP, if you have a suspected diagnosis, or if you just really need some help with mental health trauma in the associated with it within Headstart, we have those resources to offer to our families. We also make sure when it is time to go to a public school, for example, we partner with them, we have our learning evaluation partners, and we help the families identify schools within their neighborhoods so that they can transition if we have a family that may move under his star, and we can help them try to find another hair star. So hit star offers, we offer meals, because we’re part of the food program, as well as resources for families, we have to have a community needs assessment so that we know what we need to offer within our community. And we also have referral systems where we can help our families that may have they live in a food desert, they may need some need, they may need rental assistance, making sure that they are able to have a one stop shop where they can get there that only their child’s educational needs, but also just learn it and navigating as a family within the community. Were able to house those resources and refer people out as well. Families out,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:38
that is so beautiful, I having little kids, for me anyhow, it was all consuming. I mean, I didn’t have spare time when they were little and to try to figure out where to get the resources, what I qualify for, and then to take my kids and go and try and find those places, I could just see that being really daunting, and I had transportation. And that’s not always a given. So for you to provide that wraparound support and create that community and give not only the children a great start, but give the families that support that they can, you know, continue on as a community and going into the school together. I am sure that is a game changer for many families.

Danielle Jordan 12:18
We do here at start early educator, we have an advantage because we have tri level funding. So some things may not necessarily be covered under hairstyle, but we know we need it, for example, we have a play therapist. And that’s not technically a requirement of hairstyle, but it is a requirement of our community. So based on the needs of our children, over 30% of my current enrollment, children either have a diagnosed need or a suspected knee. So we had to make sure we had the resources there, you know, having a center or site where therapists can come and they can have services there is it’s tough sometimes for families, especially when you’re zero to three, that therapy happens in the home. But if you’re working, that’s the same time as a therapist, when does your child want to get services. So allowing them to come into the school on working together to create various goals, working with they transition to Chicago public schools that were there, and we’re part of that process. So those are different things that we use wraparound funding, to help us with having a sensory room for children that need a little extra pullout services, having our inclusion aides, our specialized team members that can provide that one on one, you know a little bit of time away to get it together and didn’t come back, which is actually planned work together are some of the other resources that I am proud to say they’re my organization offers, as well as making sure that our teachers have the education that they need in order to meet those needs. I recently went back to school because I needed to refresh myself my earned a Master’s back in 2003. And things have changed, the resources have changed. So just making sure that as I’m an example, for my teachers would go but I was like, hey, send them out there without having some money. So let’s partner who can we partner with to give our teaching staff or our family support staff a chance to get the necessary credentials, that they need to make sure that they are at the top of their game. So not only do you see the part of working with our families, because that’s one part of our history. The next part is working with the children but also working with our professionals. One thing that Headstart does offer for our families is if you’re are a parent and you’re interested in becoming a teacher, there is a special track. There are teacher requirements that we all must abide by in the state of Illinois. But under his start, if that person was a headstart parent, they could start as a teacher aid and we can work on a plan In for them to get what they need. I have a couple of my teachers are my loan teachers who’ve been with us over 20 years started out as parents of a headstart program. And so that’s just another wonderful aspect of the program. So is that I’m going to water you, and then would hope that you blown and you water someone else. So that’s another great part of this program. Another support that we offer as a start early to make sure that we have those resources available to not only our families and our children, but to our teachers and staff as well.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:40
Head Start sound so intentional, and you’re addressing the whole system, the resources that kids need, the parents need the teachers need. And then by growing your own, these parents that can move into onto the teacher track, they already know what Headstart provides, they understand. And it makes sense that they would be wonderful, as you said, passing it on and paying it forward to the next group of parents. This is really impressive.

Danielle Jordan 16:13
And one thing with that, because we we hope to see movement, and I spoke earlier about the criteria for Headstart, and if we have parents who may have been students, and that helped them qualify, or if they may have been below the poverty line, but through the resources, and the different referrals that we have, guess what, they’re now below the poverty line anymore. And so there are special allowances, that we’re able to keep them in a program. So it’s not like, Hey, you made it by No, we still have to have those relationships, we, you know, want to celebrate you. But we also know that we are a source of your family. Now we’re important to you. So even looking at that, and how we work with in our different structures for covering the child’s day. And if there is a situation where a one family cannot know more or have access to this level of funding. And we all know how much child care could be if you do not have TAs or Headstart is tough, you know, going back into this world is tough, just gaining new relationships. Just imagine being a parent, your first two years, you’ve met these teachers, because we do continuity of care. So our family stay with us for the first three years of their child’s life. And you graduated from school and you’re doing well. And I have to say goodbye to you because you no longer meet, you know, our income requirement. And no, no, no, we have to work on that. And that’s another thing that has started dress and we’re able to work on, you know, to collect the see, hey, we have this family, we do not want to penalize, we want to make sure that we can keep our relationship intact. So that’s another aspect of our program as well that we really do have to think about

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:57
absolutely being relationship based, is such a compassionate and human centered approach that that’s beautiful. I wonder, with all of the costs skyrocketing in that shortage of preschools and whatnot, how do you see as moving forward as a country and making sure that our zero to five population? Is school ready and is cared for?

Danielle Jordan 18:28
Yeah, I mean, as great as our program is cope is still is still impacted us, you know, we are still looking for teachers, some of our professionals then that return due to a number of different reasons, which impacts how many children we can service at the level of quality that we hold true for our site for our school. So just looking at ways of, as you seen, grow your own, and also helping our families get back on their feet, making sure that they have, you know, the childcare, they’re slowly getting acclimated back into school and work. It was a requirement where you have to be working or in school, but we know life life. And in order to do that you need to have a place that you can trust your child to go while you are looking for a program while you are looking for employment. So we are working with our state start early. We have a great advocacy team that is advocating for different things. Recently, if the family’s qualify for TANF or snap, if they receive, you know, food stamps, or that’s not food stamps anymore, but they received any type of help they qualify for childcare. That was not always true. So we at least have a little bit more wiggle room to make sure that our families can qualify for services because I think right now and I wrote some notes, the income guideline is you have the BLS 200 are 100 and 130%. above the poverty line, well, we cannot have more than 35% of our enrollment 100 to 130%, above the poverty line, and that used to be a lot less. But again, I talked about people getting jobs. And in order to qualify, the family income must not exceed 275% of the federal poverty line. And so what does that look like in figures? So, you know, if you’re to family, family size, you know, you can’t exceed over $3,000 a month, that’s impossible. Rent alone is astronomical. And so that is the federal poverty line. So even staying within that, and getting services, we have to understand that this is reality for our families. And so they’re coming in with incomes this way. And then again, an advantage to get enough to keep their head above water, and we’re kicking them out. So we’re really looking at that we know, when you go to a for profit, childcare, what we offer, you know, is astronomically high as a professional as a teacher, our center, we haven’t had, because it’s 100%. Last year, Headstart, so many of our teaching teams, they don’t qualify to bring their children there. And so the biggest thing that I’ve heard is that, hey, I haven’t given all this quality care. But when it’s time for me to find a center, the price is is super high. And the quality is not what I’m giving here. So you know, as an agency, we do partner with other agencies to say, hey, can we get something in our Employee Assistance Plan, where we can have a resource and, you know, maybe we can have a discounted rate if we, as an organization do that. So we have those partnerships. But it is tough when you’re working, and my team is dedicated, and they’re not having the same quality of a center that they can afford to have their children in row. So is, is really looking at how that makes you feel. I haven’t had a chance to be in the for profit arena for childcare primarily worked within his start. But just hearing from my teachers, and from my other friends and some of our families who come back, they had babies, right? Man, I don’t qualify, can you help me find a program, and then just them sharing the stories of, you know, what I experienced at Educare with my first child, and I’m doing significantly better? Where can I find a sensitive office, all that where I’m not paying rent for a week? So you know, and we’re still there was still there. We still have partnerships, we help our families identify programs, they have me look them up small period, like, can you call with me to walk through the center and the site? Because that is a reality is just really looking at the quality of care? Now that we’ve made such economics strides, so how do we support our families?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:03
Wow, that would be so heartbreaking to work hard and to raise that income, and then to not be able to afford Headstart to teach at Headstart, know how wonderful it is. And to be struggling to find something safe and quality. Either it almost feels like you’re penalized, or these families are penalized for working hard and being able to earn more money and there needs to be layers of support. It shouldn’t be all or nothing.

Danielle Jordan 23:34
Right? So we we advocate it and we do have, I think the the 30% of our enrollment can be the ones who qualify who are over income, right? But that goes quickly. Or they are loyal to us. And we’re going to open it up. Or we hope to open it up to some of our employees, as well. But the slides go really quickly. And then just really saying, Hey, this is not just a problem we have for we’re looking at the cost, how do we advocate for that? Currently in Chicago, we know, K through whatever is you every child deserves education, they’re gonna get kindergarten. Recently, they did preschool four out was not recent. But now more attention is given where if you’re three years old, then you can qualify for preschool. Now it does kind of hurt us when enrollment but I am glad that it’s there because we want you to come with us. But there is more important to say it is really being done Hey, learning occurs before they get to kindergarten if you didn’t learn that, if you didn’t understand what the early years look like and what how 3d yours can impact learning. Let me remind you of this little thing that we just got to which was the pandemic, the way that we learned and we went through two years had a lot of impact. So whenever I people that say hey, but is it really that nice? Siri, you see how we lost about two years? And how necessary that is. So just imagine not having your child in their program until they’re five years old. So we allocate for that early headstart with Sparta Headstart is a big force behind that, even before that we have a doula service. So we have one on ones with our Yes, yes, yes, it was just a great love that that have that one on one, you have a trusted professional to go with you to your doctor’s appointment. That maternal rate, especially for African American women is astronomical. I’ve witnessed the differences in appointments, I had a mother, and she said, hey, you know, because I received medic, medical, hey, I have medical card, I don’t even go on the same floor as the other parents who did when I had insurance. And I had my first child, I was on a whole different floor, she said, there is a different change. When I complain about preeclampsia, or if I have different days, I don’t feel heard. So having a doula who knows the system, who can go with our families, who can be an advocate who can be there, you know, as that person that they can have to connect with free early early, so the child has wraparound services from the start. So all of that is impactful. And we have to bring more insight about that. We just had our advocacy, early childhood advocacy day in Springfield. So a group of our families wit, we sent our parents, a couple of our parents went to the app, early childhood advocacy day in Washington, DC, and just really talking about the importance of making sure that their early years are valued, and it should not be as great as Headstart is, believe me, I love Headstart. I am a headstart alumni. But those services should be offered. Just like we offer kindergarten, we must invest in our children, we must understand the importance of the first five years, the first three years, and what does that look like? let families know, hey, this is something you don’t even think even. But when you get it, you think is great. So you have it like you wouldn’t even know, you know, that you can have an advocate with you, that can help you and really kind of, you know, bring to light what you think internally, hey, my child is not talking. What does that mean? Should they be talking? Should they be more than more? Who can I trust this with because we internalize so much as a mother, you can’t have those conversations with some people because it looks like you’re not doing enough. And then having relationships with a doula from the birth of your child having those first three years with your teacher. And even as teachers, we have to be brave enough to say, Hey, I recognize this in your child. And just letting you know, this is what we can do together to get a plan that’s missed when you go to kindergarten. And no relationship is your first time working into the school system is your child’s first time sometimes even associated with somebody outside of their family. And you lead them they on the first day by themselves. And you never know. But just imagine what that shock looks like. And so, we are advocating for that, you know, why not make this universal? Yes, glad universal pre K is existing. But we need to relook at our birth to three as well. And more families should not just be restricted. And think of remember, it’s a babysitter system where I have to, you know, we’re going to pay to have your kid here because you have to go to work and we’re watching your children know, there’s tons of learning that should be valued just as much as our K through eight.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:44
Absolutely. It’s not babysitting. There’s so much that developmentally kids should have access to in the manipulatives. And the interactions. I completely agree. It seems like government funding is always in danger of being reduced or eliminated or politicize Danielle, how can individuals advocate and take actionable steps to protect early childhood education funding and maybe even to ask for more and asked for that zero to three to be sacred.

Danielle Jordan 29:13
So like I said, we joined last Tuesday were the early childhood advocacy day. And I think as a center, it is our right to share those type of opportunities where our officials cannot just hear from us, us as professionals, but can hear from the families is one thing for me to say it but it’s another thing for somebody who’s living it to say it, you know, participate. One thing that we do ask of our parents that we have a parent board, and when they are part of our parent committee, they learn we share different updates of what’s going on with different legislation, what may be impacting our community, not only in early childhood, but hey, you live here in this area. We’re changing, they’re changing this, you might want to be aware of this, hey, when you go to your school, be aware that there are certain things and policies that your school change, you have to be aware of whenever we change anything, like if it’s changing the time, or if we are deciding to, you know, celebrate a certain holiday, we need to make sure that they have a voice. And so giving them opportunities with just understanding and advocating for what we do as a center, hopefully, will give them a spark so that they can have, so our families can have a little bit more understanding of, hey, as a member of this organization, I have somebody that can help me so with start early, I know that hey, I want my sister I want my auntie I want my kids to have opportunity of what I’ve had with them. So that’s how we spark efficacy. also partnering with our universities who have teacher trainings and letting the students know, I will be graduating next thursday from UIC. Congrats. Radek, thank you, you spoke about it early with the special early childhood special education. And in that program, there’s a lot of things that I knew. But there are some things that I did not know, that directly impacts teaching, and what it looks like to have early childhood educators. So it’s one thing to advocate for funding, but you have no teachers, right? So it’s so many different levels that we are not aware of, and thus, those of us who had a sparks, whenever I see stuff that comes through, I send it out to my friends and say, Hey, this is important to me, I need to be important to you, who is your congressman who is your ottoman who is your person, I need you to send this and I have a prepared this is advocating for early childhood, this advocating for teacher funding, this is going to eliminate some of the precursors that our teachers needed, like the basic skills test, which a lot of us were fairly because we didn’t learn that we didn’t learn like that. But we’d have a drive to drive me to wonder teachers, but this is limiting us and different things that I know that I can share. I can share my passion as somebody else advocate because they don’t know what I didn’t know that, you know, this happens in the zero to D program and why we should, why we should make it important, aren’t you on the go back to just babysitting? No, we need funding for this. This is this, you know, we’re able to support families and children this way, which also have a layer and pay on all of us in society. We can give people fish, but we give them a fishing pole so they can fish forever. And that’s what the advocacy is doing. You know, you are aware. And then once you start that, start going down a wormhole. And you will see the people who are challenging your challenging offering services for our babies like how dare you. And it sparks so much that I gained people, not only am I sharing different things, some of my friends close to me they’re sharing like do you know about this has come across, start early does a wonderful job and just allowing that as part of the news that we share. It gives them a little bit more exposure to know that your voice count and you can’t advocate.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:16
I love that I love the advocacy and getting involved with legislation knowing what’s going on out there. I feel like we have to stand up for what we believe in because there’s so many competing agendas out there and and our little zero to three year olds aren’t going to be able to speak up for themselves. So we have to do that for them.

Danielle Jordan 33:35
We had families, they were there because we they had to go Springfield for four to five moms with their babies. Moms was stroller because they said hey, I value what I receive. So I’m going to be the largest supporter for so that was an amazing sight to see.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:52
Wow. That is and way to show that they value it by wanting it to to stay and for more people to have access. Danielle, I am going to pivot I always like to take time for listeners to get to know the person behind the passion and you definitely are the passion. May I ask you some turbo time questions?

Danielle Jordan 34:14

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:15
Awesome. What is the last book you read?

Danielle Jordan 34:19
So it’s so rare this morning. It’s our case I read the whole book. I was watching WGN News and Judy Bloom movie is coming out so I downloaded Are you there God it’s me Margaret. And while I was at the orthodontist, I zoomed in and read because Judy Bloom was is one of my favorite authors. I remember when scholastics will come out a book fairs I bought every book I’m pretty sure my mom still has been added so fresh off the breaker is I wish I had the haircut but I put it on my phone because I’m traveling so I will be reading that I Want to really really dig into it? reread it so that I can eventually buy civil rights. So I’m so excited about Judy Blooms movie.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:08
I need to do that. I remember, I had a little typewriter I got for a birthday, and I wanted to be an author like Judy Bloom. And I was typing stories and, and it sounded like I was totally plagiarizing. This was elementary me just having her on such a pedestal.

Danielle Jordan 35:24
Yeah, super fudge and Oh, my goodness. I mean, it was just such a, this was at four o’clock in the morning. And I was like, Well, let me download the book and then have a chance to read it. So I am so excited to dig into there and even more excited that Judy Bloom is now going to be shared with a whole nother generation of readers.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:45
Yes, agreed. How about two inspirational folks you’d like to meet?

Danielle Jordan 35:50
Okay, so I love Betty White, and I have so man I couldn’t meet her. But when I went to

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:58
who is it? I’m sorry. Who did you say?

Danielle Jordan 36:00
Betty White

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:01
Oh my gosh, yes.

Danielle Jordan 36:03
I grew up anyway, I watched all of her shows and just you know how amazing she was advocating for pets. My mom knows I love anyway, so we were in Vegas, and we visited Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. And I found it usually because I’m special. So they usually talk about me and my specialty. But they literally like my mom acted like she was being very white and her wife speaker and was talking to me. And so I was just like so amazed at Betty Betty. Just if you dig into her life, how she advocated for herself, the way she has so much spoke and possessed, like I always wished I could eat Betty White, just just Alpha GP. And then I think my other person would be because this is kind of hard to narrow down. I think right now. I really Oh, cuz it’s like Michelle Obama, who I just love. She, she row sizes go Michelle Obama, because I was thinking just to really sit there and just pick her brain. Listen to her tell her stories. Just wow, she’s just such a superwoman. I love the way that she was intentional with thinking about us from Chicago. She was somebody that I can actually say, Hey, I could see looks like me. She advocates like me, she thinks she talks she walks like me, her family is the same kind of dynamic that I have. So I just, I super respect her. She is so dope. And I wish I just had the opportunity to just kind of sit in the same room with her and just listen to her speech,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:46
uh huh, so do I. What is the biggest thing you wish folks knew about the zero to five, or even the Zero to Three brain

Danielle Jordan 37:55
was they can respect how much happens so fast. I can attest on earlier when I when I shared just imagine that you’re new to a whole new world, you are no none of these people. And you have to build a trust system with them. You’re learning something new every day, and I was an infant teacher for many years. And when you just see infant, notice that there’s a whole new world from crawling when they pull up, and they look past that was there. Who know that that is where the blocks are. And just you know how important and respect that they are learning this, everything is a new adventure for them. Every day, they’re learning to trust, they have to trust you to get to know that you’re going to go away, they got to know that you’re going to come back and just how much they lost so quickly. If I had the same brain that I had, as an infant, I will be dynamic that is a mega mine. That is a superhero power. The things that you have to learn and master within the first three years of your life that sets the foundation for all of your life. If you don’t get walking right, impacts your whole life. If you don’t make those relationships and learn those trust and have somebody that you can trust to nourish you. It impacts how we move forward. So just being respectful of the development, understanding development, and being taking time to honor it, taking time to realize that, hey, infants are amazing humans, that whole stages is an amazing part and just enjoying it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:42
Guess what is something that most folks don’t know about you?

Danielle Jordan 39:48
Well, I say like, I’m not an extrovert, but I am an introvert and it takes a lot for me to speak. And if it was wasn’t for my teachers recognizing that, can I cry about it, I’m noticing I can’t, you need to take a break away, you learn different. I did have challenges with learning. I have a sailed, you know, rarely because I had teachers that recognized that I had a delay. And it was really with anxiety. I had dinner and breakfast with my fourth grade teacher, because she was the very first one who took the time to recognize you know that I had this type of anxiety a little add. And she told my family because they wanted to teach got to me, because you know, I did all the work fast and let them look like I was paying attention. And then I spaced out. And it wasn’t until Miss Horvath, she recognized that she said, Hey, you’re really smart. But you take some time, we have to take some time, so that you can get some sensory integration. When you feel like that, and you don’t know how to get it out. This is what you can do. I’m going to sit you closer to me and I’m going to give you some figures I’m going to allow you to draw. And then she shared that with my family who’s get super aggravated with me because I probably wasn’t annoying child. And from talking with her, my family did more intention. So my dad taught me how to play solitaire. So when I was with people that he do that, and then when the word of Game Boys came home, they get the games, and they noticed that hey, I needed some time to kind of get my mind together and then be able to rejoin. So if it wasn’t for my teacher who really brought that to light, I wouldn’t understand it. And it didn’t really come to the forefront until I have a younger younger brother, and my father who remember what was shared with him, you say, Danny, your brother just like you, you know, ya go. But now you’re getting there, you get shadowed by to know what you think. I think he need what we deal with Miss Horvath. And so God advocate. So it’s tough when you are a person who seems like you got it going on, but your brain needs to take some time to take a stop. And just really kind of get it together. And then having a teacher who was brave enough to a recognize it, let your family know. And also support them with learning how to help you. And then teaching me how to advocate for myself.

Danielle Jordan 42:12
So before I started school, I say hey, I have an intention problem. I have an anxiety problem. I’m going to sit in front of your class, I’m going to look like I’m not paying attention. But I’m hearing everything you say I’m not being disrespectful. I have to doodle, I have to do out this. And they got it. I went toHarvard, Harvard school,all exhibit on doodling and the mind. So I was like, Okay, I’m not weird. So knowing it, understanding it, and then having an advocate to, to share that and be willing enough to help me. So yeah, that’s some something some people don’t know,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:47
wow. And less Miss Horvath for identifying that and taking time not just to say, give you a label. But hey, so here’s what it looks like, here’s what you need. And here, I’m gonna help you. So giving you tools again, giving that fishing rod back.

Danielle Jordan 43:07
And that was a smart kid. So the rest of the teachers they not that they did they were just so was there was this amazed how quick I was able to move and learn. And then my mom, she was also like, she’s also like me, and she advanced enough. But it was my dad was like, No, Your mom was smart. But she thought she she didn’t know like us. What were you trying to say is that, hey, she was really smart, but she didn’t know how to socialize properly. And so they kept moving her up, and she never had the opportunity to get that socialization skill. So Miss Horvath is a gem for doing it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 43:40
Yes, Danielle, I’d like to wrap up with a magic wand moment. So I’m handing you the education evolution magic wand. What services would you wish were universally available for our under five population and their families?

Danielle Jordan 43:57
Everything that I described that we offer at Educare. It should be all for for every family, you know, universal care for our 03 the intentionality of having a doula having teachers that are with you throughout your child’s first five years, having a center that can support you, give you the chance that you need to understand, you know what you know about your child, by listening to you be able to sear what you’re thinking and not be judged, but get the help and services that you need? I think every parent deserves and we can make this happen is just making sure that we feel that there’s a value to it. So I I wish I can have a magic wand and make sure that I can just put that in everybody’s head just have a glimpse into my world, because I’m pretty sure if they see it, they will love it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 44:52
I agree. Danielle, thank you for your passion and for being that voice for our youngest of learners. and for their families. It’s been an honor having you on the show today.

Danielle Jordan 45:03
Thank you so much for listening to me and allowing me to just share the little corner of my world that brings me so much joy.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 45:11
My pleasure.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 45:21
I had no idea how comprehensive Educare and Headstart resources were. Our childcare infrastructure is vital, and we must strengthen it, it is far too fragile. And who wouldn’t want to do let her help make sure that the whole prenatal experience was safe and all that it could be? I know, I had a lactation specialist in the hospital after my first daughter was born. And boy, was that a godsend. There’s so much we don’t know as parents, it seems like we should have incredible resources available every step of the way. The stakes are so high. And it is sad to see that there is such disparity in levels of resources depending upon income. I’ve been really pleased that our microscope has not turned away any students based on finances. That makes us a little bit scrappy. But equity is something that we all need to be fighting for. Every child deserves access to wraparound resources, the ones that they need to grow and thrive. We’re all becoming more aware of early childhood traumas, and how these have a lasting impact on our children well into their later years. I see children who have been adopted within a few days of birth, and are still dealing with attachment disorders in middle and high school. When Danielle talks about how much the brain is doing in those early days and years, it is not an exaggeration, learning how to form a bond and trust. Learning how to navigate getting needs met, how to communicate, especially before speech is fully developed. Those early years are vital. And as Daniel says, we have a mega brain at that age. Why wouldn’t we want to have all the resources needed so that our kids are launched into preschool and kindergarten at full capacity? I appreciate that people are looking at teacher preparation and challenging old parameters, passing a basic skills test, when that isn’t something that was necessarily a part of someone’s education. Is that really a priority to care for our youngest children? Or do we need compassionate adults working with our youth, and ones who learn the strategies necessary to support our youth and their development. Advocacy needs to come from all of us to make our systems equitable, and provide our children and their families with all that they deserve. And Danielle’s magic wand was beautiful. It would be lovely. If every child on the planet and their parents had all of the resources Danielle mentioned educator providing. And then as she added on having parents not be judged, just being supported. Yes, I completely agree. Thank you listeners for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 48:30
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education


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