A career is a lot like a colorful book of many chapters– there are characters, problems, successes, and ultimately there’s an end to each chapter. In August, Carol Heagy closed the chapter on her days as the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center Director. Her last day celebrated over 35 years of dedicated service to our organization and to the York Community. Carol’s involvement with Crispus Attucks grew from planning discos to developing one of the most successful centers for early childhood education in the county.
Nurturing the 1980s daycare and recreation program into the present day state-of-the-art early learning center would not have been possible without her many mentors, including Mrs. Orr, Bob Hollis, and Meg Brubaker. She collaborated with staff to expand the program, offering the first toddler and infant-aged classes. Her advisors instilled in her a pursuit for quality. In 1996, she transitioned into the Director position and continued to encourage staff to go beyond others’ expectations to do their absolute best. Skeptics doubted Carol’s ability to get the daycare accredited as an early learning center by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), but she and her staff made it happen. When the Early Learning Center (ELC) was in danger of losing accreditation, due to outdated infrastructure, Crispus Attucks decided to further the quest for quality by constructing a new $8.8M educational facility.
Teacher development and early education advocacy were cornerstones of success that Carol hopes Crispus Attucks will continue to foster. Her staff’s education hours surpassed the required minimum and some teachers even pursue post-secondary degrees. In 2014, 8 teachers were working toward degrees: 4 Masters, 1 Bachelors, 3 Associates, and in 2015 the first teacher graduated with her Masters degree. The staff care for the children in our center, but also about children’s education across the state. Many teachers advocate for legislation that prioritizes early childhood learning. Carol’s involvement in the industry helped others realize that the ELC staff were much more than just babysitters, but truly educators and professionals. Governor Rendell chose Carol to represent York and Crispus Attucks on a Council responsible for making educational policy change. With this council, she helped connect educational institutions, forming a continuum of learning that identifies learning requirements for each step – pre-school through post-secondary.
Flipping through her long career story, Carol is grateful for being a part of change in York County. As staff sought out how to better serve the children, Carol appreciated seeing how simple changes like rearranging the room altered children’s behavior. Past students recall Carol as being a difficult teacher who always spelled out her expectations. Her greatest joy was seeing the children’s and family’s lives that have been socially, emotionally, and intellectually impacted through the ELC. Her time and the deep sense of community in York has allowed Carol to see the generational effects of her work. She was grateful for the community and staff support she received throughout her time battling cancer, a period where she and the children learned a lot. She prioritized being honest with the kids and saw that when you walk through adversity, you never go alone. In the end, she knows that these changes will help her and Crispus Attucks to grow.
As Carol starts a new chapter with the South Central Regional Key, we will never forget her influence on the Early Learning Center. She believed that every child can succeed and she helped guide them to whatever path they needed to get there. Bringing in outside services to advise staff and families on challenging behavioral issues, she was never afraid to ask for help to improve a family’s life. Her goal was to help each child have the same opportunities and we are grateful for her leadership. We will preserve her high standards as we continue to inspire children to be learners and make lasting changes for generations to come.