6 Words. 1 Journey.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Robin Schotter 
Early Childhood Specialist, 4-C
When your goal is to foster a community of learners, that goal is never completed. Metro United Way and Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) have been partnering to prepare kids for kindergarten through their Excellence Academy for almost five years.

Throughout this journey, there has always been something new to explore, a new way to look at something, and something new contributed from each of the mentors, administrators, directors, teachers and children. We want a program that is responsive to those involved and embraces change. It starts now and never ends.

Engaging in dialogue about how children and adults learn means sharing knowledge back and forth. It means being vulnerable, trying new things, talking about and reflecting on success and failures. It’s a culture that we have to create.


One of these new changes is implementing the "Reggio Emilia" approach to early childhood. In this approach, the classroom is thought of as the “third teacher” and includes elements like neutral colors, home-like touches, natural materials and intentional invitations to learn, so children’s curiosity can develop organically within a supportive environment.

Our team has done a lot of research. We have gone to trainings and read books that make this way of thinking and teaching approachable to our teachers.

In May, Metro United Way and 4-C had a values and visioning meeting. We spent hours talking about all the ways we wanted to impact our community, and what we wanted to create for children, families, and teachers. We had lists and lists of ideas. The challenge was to boil it down to three, two word phrases. Through doing this, we realized that we had the same values not only for children but teachers and ourselves as well:

Love Learning
Build Communities
Transform Lives

These values have implications in how we wanted to work together. Therefore we:

     • Appreciate uniqueness and diversity
     • Support individuals and their growth
     • Expect integrity in relationships
     • Provide opportunities to discover the joy of learning
     • Celebrate pride in our achievements


The subtle shift in reading these words is that it isn’t Metro United Way or 4-C or even the Excellence Academy transforming lives. You can’t transform anyone else’s life for them. The ownership lies within the person. Our teachers’ lives are transforming. We hear their stories all the time, but they are transforming themselves.

One teacher shared with us that since she has become a "Master" teacher and has had increased wages because of it, she was able to move out of her parent's house and live on her own.

We have even had a teacher tell us that her health is improving because of the Excellence Academy. She says that because there is less stress in her classroom, she actually loves going to work and her blood pressure is down. Transformation isn’t a gift you give someone. It comes from within!

Even though these values are something that has to be done by the person, what we can do is create a space for it to happen. We can foster our teachers in building a community with each other. We can foster our children to build a community in their classroom. We can’t build it for them. But we can provide supports, guidance, and constant encouragement. We can hand them the bricks, but we are all our own builders. So we ask anyone who reads our values to read it as:

I love learning. I build communities. I transform lives.


6 words. 1 journey. That's how we prepare our community's kids for kindergarten and for success later in school, work and life! Learn more about the Excellence Academy program HERE.




Robin has been on staff at 4-C since 2009. In that time she has been a credentialed trainer of early childhood science, a mentor in the Excellence Academy, and a writer/designer of creative projects. She has a BA in English and began her work with children in the mid 90s as a naturalist at two local parks, Marengo Cave and Wyandotte Caves. She worked for many years as the Early Childhood Education Coordinator for the Kentucky Science Center and has collaborated on programs for children with local organizations such as the Squallis Puppeteers and Bernheim Forest.
Robin enjoys reading a good book, gardening, hiking, camping, making things and exploring the world with her son, Liam, and husband, Justin.
Robin can be reached at robin-schotter@4cforkids.com. Connect with 4-C on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or on their website.

1 comment

  1. The learning, building and transformation leap out of the very words and photos above. Your work is a blessing to all whom you touch. I am proud of all of you...and yet I only know one of you! "We're all in this together..." RWF

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