Early Learning, Education, General

Event Recap: ECSO Initiative’s Leader Celebration

In this event recap blog, the Early Childhood Support Organization (ECSO) team shares highlights and takeaways from the ECSO Initiative’s Leader Celebration hosted on November 5th in Worcester, MA. This event was ECSO's first major gathering for the more than 160 Massachusetts Early Education leaders partnered in the work across the state of Massachusetts.

By Taylor Hicks, Senior Associate, ECSO

December 1, 2022

On November 5th in Worcester, MA, the Early Childhood Support Organization (ECSO) Initiative hosted ECSO Initiative’s Leader Celebration, its first major gathering for the more than 160 Massachusetts Early Education leaders partnered in the work. Coming on the heels of particularly challenging years for early education directors, the convening brought together participants across three cohorts and the state to celebrate their accomplishments and build community. 

Through this public-private partnership, ECSOs partner with early education leaders to improve instruction and practice at their licensed centers serving children ages birth through five years old. Partnered directly with ECSOs in this rewarding work, leaders are empowered to build program capacity, facilitate professional learning of educators and staff, and support educators’ use of curriculum at their centers.

 By design, leaders are individually hard at work implementing these instructional practices at their respective and unique centers. The intensive work of leaders in the ECSO Initiative takes place within a particularly underinvested early education system experiencing systemic challenges of labor shortages, pandemic-related closings, and educator retention difficulties. This instability has made the most recent years for professionals leading this invaluable work challenging. This event was designed to bring these leaders together in one space to build a community of early education leaders across the state and motivate them to move forward through appreciation and connection.

 Grounded in community, the celebration’s creation and design centered on relationship-building. The ECSO Initiative’s Leader Celebration was co-designed by an incredible group of program leaders, ECSO coaches, and the Initiative team. The Planning Committee met regularly for the last five months to co-design this first-ever imagining and build an agenda for our time together. The agenda was thematically divided into three sections: Connection & Community: The Work We Do, Celebration & Appreciation: The Work You Do, and Recognition: A Leader Exhibition, the event provided a space for leaders to reflect, share, and discuss the important pioneering work they are collectively doing here in the state of Massachusetts.

A few highlights and outcomes of the day:

  • Dr. Junlei Li, co-chair of the Human Development and Education Program and Senior Lecturer in Early Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, delivered an opening talk on his developed “Simple Interactions” approach that facilitated round table discussion and reflection on the value of their leadership
  • “Coat of Arms” presentation and share! Round table groups of leaders crafted emblematic shields representing their shared identity and what brings them to this work
  • Community-building across cohort, geography, program size, and program type disrupts the stratification of a complex early education system
  • Meaningful connections and networks were created and formed between geographically close centers

To learn more about the ECSO initiative and its work to support early childhood education in the state of Massachusetts, visit: www.newprofit.org/ecso