Day care provider awarded for 'rewarding work'
When a life-altering event forced Shan Stewart, of Rochester, to re-evaluate what was important to her, she knew it was to follow her maternal pull.
That's why Stewart left her career as an information system manager of a credit union to open her own licensed in-home day care, Shan's House Childcare , 13 years ago.
"As a career, although it is a lot of work and exhausting, it's extremely rewarding work," she said.
On Saturday, her work will also be awarding.
Stewart was selected as the Olmsted County Child Care Provider of the Year by the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association , the state child care association. She will be honored during the state conference, which culminates with a banquet during which all of Minnesota's County Provider of the Year honorees are recognized.
Stewart was selected based on her volunteer work with Family Child Care Inc., the local child care association, and for having a positive impact on children.
"I love to hear her speak of the families and children she cares for," said Jackie Harrington, president of Family Child Care, Inc., one of Stewart's nominators. "There is love and respect conveyed, even when challenging situations arise."
That love of caring for children stems from the joy of learning from her grandmother who was Stewart's daycare provider.
"She taught me how to sew, garden and how to can — all these wonderful things that a lot of kids are losing now," she said.
Stewart passes on those skills to the children she cares for, but also makes the projects into hands-on learning about science, math, measuring and reading.
That's in addition to a professional preschool curriculum that she teaches daily, and the weekly visits from a professional music therapist from the Twin Cities.
Even playing outside is a learning experience at Shan's House. Stewart made an "explorer bag" for each child filled with items such as a clipboard and paper, a ruler and tweezers that they use to explore the world around them.
She also recently surrendered her favorite antique cookie jar so the children could make a compost heap in her kitchen and predict what would happen after two weeks to a penny, plastic knife, banana peel and other objects that they placed in it.
"It's the kind of thing that they can get their hands into and learn about the Earth and how to keep it clean for Earth Day," she said.
While each day is filled with the reward of being there for her own two children, who are now in their late teens, and the funny things the children say, Stewart said she also looks to the future.
"I look forward to hearing back from them as they get older to see if I had any influence on them," she said. "Like my grandma did for me."