Reflecting on the National Family and Community Engagement Conference

Anna Somerville pictured with Sacred Little Ones Project Co-Directors Shelley Macy and Nahrin Aziz Parsons.

Two years ago I was a struggling single mother working twelve hour shifts at a child care as preschool teacher making $9.04 an hour. The quality of the center concerned me and so did my future there. I knew that I would never move up professionally. I wasn’t offered the necessary support or training. I didn’t make enough money to support my children nor did I have any time with them since I had to work almost sixty hours a week just to make ends meet.

I quit my job and started to attend Northwest Indian College in hopes of attaining my Early Childhood Education Degree. Yes, I wanted a better job with a living income and realistic hours but I also wanted to become a better teacher. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be a hundred percent confident in myself and in my practice.

Although my motives for attending Northwest Indian College were professional, I stumbled upon a class that served me in multiple ways. Shelly Macy (the lead faculty of the Early Childhood Education department) taught a class for parents and Early Childhood Educators that was different from anything I had ever seen. A revolutionary parenting class that was more of a support group than a class that taught valid methods based on brain research aimed towards building connection (Hand and Hand Parenting). It wasn’t long before I became an expert in my own right and even offered a position at the campus Early Learning Center as a lead teacher prior to graduation.

As a cog in the mechanics of a much larger machine and vision, sometimes you doubt yourself (no matter how successful you are). Part of being a professional with high standards is the internal need to question the difference you are making. It wasn’t until I presented what Northwest Indian College is doing regarding Hand in Hand Parenting and the Ké’ Family Engagement Initiative that I realized just how important what I’m doing actually is.

To receive ovations from people in your field who are not only vastly more educated than you but have accomplishments you admire is an experience I will never forget. Being surrounded by the brightest minds of my field within an environment that supported equity over educational background, race, social economic status, etc., could only be described as wonderfully overwhelming.

Written by Anna Somerville 2015 AAS-T ECE Graduate & Lead Toddler Teacher, NWIC ELC