by Kamilah Philpotts, 2018 OCDEL Policy Fellow

“Why did OCDEL…?” This is a common question heard in my sector of the ECE field.

I am a Keystone STARS Team Leader at the Southeast Regional Key. This work involves working with child care providers to assist them in demonstrating how they meet the Keystone STARS standards. In doing so, I’m able to assess their needs and connect them with technical assistance, professional development, partner agencies, and other resources. I also have the pleasure of supervising a team of Quality Coaches in doing this work.

Child care providers often look to the regional key as the face of OCDEL. When Keystone STARS in revised or new initiatives are put forth, the regional key is charged with spreading the word in their respective region. As such, often times providers and regional key staff alike wonder “Why did OCDEL…?” This question is what prompted me to apply for the OCDEL Policy Fellowship. The fellowship has given me the opportunity to gain an understanding of the complex systems that comprise OCDEL in order to gain perspective and explain the why behind the how.

Participation in the fellowship for me has been all about gaining perspective. Hearing the perspective of leaders in the field has been an invaluable experience. It’s allowed me to see the overarching goals and helped me to decide where I see myself aiding in achieving those goals.

Some of the most impactful experiences that were directly related to my work was listening to Deputy Secretary Susan Morris describe the vision for Early Learning Resource Centers. It was also wonderful to hear Secretary Pedro Rivera describe the holistic approach to education the Every Student Succeeds Act allows school districts to take.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Donna Wennerholt, the Professional Development Project manager at the PA Key as my mentor. Donna helped me connect the pieces in the relationship between OCDEL, the PA Key, and the regional keys.

Perspective is powerful. When one takes the time to see the other side of a situation, it gives the ability to appreciate both sides. I am ever grateful to have had the opportunity to gain perspective.