Q&A with Noble Thrive by 5 Leader Tammy Pifer

The work that’s being done by the Early Childhood Coalition is done by a team of experts in a variety of fields, who are passionate about making sure that Noble County has a solid foundation of high quality and affordable child care and early learning facilities. Here is the story of BrightPoint’s Tammy Pifer, in her own words.

Question: How did you get into Early Childhood Education?

Tammy: I am a Social Worker by training and have my Bachelor’s degree in that field.  Even as I went through that program I knew that I wanted to do community work and not have my own practice. During the summers I worked at Easter Seals ARC’s special needs childcare and interned with their First Steps Developmental Therapists.  That was my introduction to working with small children and their families.  I fell in love with the family services pieces and became passionate about working with families with small children.  After school I started working with Healthy Families and then Early Head Start. I have now been working in early childhood programs for over 20 years. During that time as well I decided that I am passionate enough about early childhood education that I got my Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education.

Question: Why are you passionate about it?

Tammy: I am passionate about working with families with infants and toddlers because I know the importance of those early years.  Programs can only do so much, we have to partner with parents to help them be able to support their child’s growth and development. 

Question: Tell us about your career advancement?

Tammy: I started working with children in my pre-teen years as a babysitter.  I worked at a special needs childcare during summers of college.  After college I worked in a community childcare facility.  I started working at Brightpoint 22 years ago in the Childcare Voucher program as an Intake Specialist.  I then worked as a Coordinator for a program that helped childcare providers receive funding to help them move up levels in the Paths to Quality program.  When that program ended, I became a Home Visitor for the Healthy Families program. I moved into a Quality Assurance Supervisor position, then to a Program Supervisor, and eventually to the Program Manager.  When Brightpoint received the Early Head Start program in 2010, I became the Program Manager for that program. I am currently the Monitoring Analysis & Compliance Manager where I help the program analyze data from the program to make program decisions.  This year I also was asked to be an Adjunct Instructor for Ivy Tech Community College. 

Question: Tell us a little about those Ivy Tech Classes.

Tammy: This semester I am teaching two 8-week accelerated courses in Child Growth & Development.  This is a 100 level class to get students familiar with the basics of child development from prenatal to age 8. Being a lifelong learner is something that is also very important to me and I want to help students also gain that love of education and early childhood.  We are also facing an extreme shortage of teachers and staff in early childhood so I want to do my part to help bring more people into this field.  I think my experience can help students see the importance of caring for little ones beyond what’s in a text book.

What do you hope for the future of Early Childhood Education in Noble County?

My hope for Early Childhood Education in Noble County is that the entire community understands the need to have a strong Early Childhood Education system and bands together to provide that for all our children. I would love to see us be a Center of Excellence that other communities look to for an example of how to do it.

Question: Anything else you want to add?

Tammy: As a part of my passion for learning, early childhood, and working with families I have also taken every opportunity I can to build skills for myself and that would benefit others.  While I worked for Healthy Families I was a Certified Peer Reviewer. I am a PITC (Program for Infant Toddler Care) Trainer, I am a Certified Family Development Instructor through the University of Connecticut, and I am a Home Visitor CDA Professional Development Specialist.  These things allow me to help us create the best programs for children and families that we can.

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