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June 2020

Jamal Berry

Deputy Director, Educare DC and President, DC Head Start Association

Who are you?
I am a man, a husband, a father, and a leader.

What is the nature of your job?
At Educare DC, I oversee programs and partnerships with other organizations that serve young children.
Our mission is to serve low income families with children ages birth to 5. Ultimately our measure of
success is to lessen the achievement gap for our children in addition to connecting families to resources
that they need for raising children. Basically that means that I comb through every detail of what it takes
to not only develop programs and partnerships that serve to meet health and educational needs of
young children, but I also spend a lot of time thinking of ways to build strong families and strong
programs that serve them.

What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?
I have always enjoyed caring for and teaching young children. Initially I was drawn to the field of early
childhood education because I knew that I could make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls.
Over the years, I have been drawn to the potential of the field. I have worked alongside countless early
childhood educators who are effective in helping small children develop skills that are the foundation for
lifelong learning. I believe that our field is beginning to earn the professional respect that it deserves,
and I am drawn to helping us achieve the recognition as some of the best and most important educators
in the world.

Wishes for the future of children...
My hope for future children is that they all have fair and equal access to early learning experience. It is
important for me that others recognize that families from all walks of life love their children. However,
some families need support helping their young children get a head start on learning. It is my wish that
equality in education begins at birth.

What do you do when you are not working?
I am a family man. I love spending time with my wife and children. I have a newfound interest in growing
my own food and I’ve got a set of golf clubs in my garage that I am looking forward to learning to use. I
enjoy traveling and playing cards with my friends. Also, I like to spend time fraternizing with my
fraternities and reading leadership and motivational books.

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May 2020

Berna Artis

Head of School, School of Friends

DCAEYC thanks Berna Artis for her four years of service on the DCAEYC board. We appreciate her for all she's done in forging a path for growth, and look forward to continue working with her as a DCAEYC member.

Who are you?

I am the Head of School for Friends, a preschool in Dupont Circle. I have been dedicated to the field of education for more than 20 years, having held various roles and taught middle and high school students prior to my work in early childhood education. I have been involved in various volunteer work, such as serving on the DCAEYC Board from 2016 to 2020, providing professional development trainings at conferences, and being part of various work groups focusing on equity, diversity, and high-quality practices in early childhood education for all children. I believe in lifelong learning and in cherishing each other’s experiences.


What is the nature of your job?

I lead a dedicated team of 17 professionals in my school serving a highly diverse group of families and their children, with a focus on empathy, non-violence, diversity, and community.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

All children need and deserve a good start in life and educators play a critical role in this. Supporting other professionals, families, and providing the best experiences for children is every educator's responsibility.


Wishes for the future of children...

A child's success and prosperity should not be limited to where they were born or what kind of resources and privileges they did or did not have. Children are the architects of future generations and they deserve an equal opportunity in life.


What do you do when you are not working?

I cherish being with my family, enjoy reading all sorts of books, playing word games, volunteering and advocating for children, families, and educators. As a life-long learner, education is a huge part of my life and it is a way of living.


April 2020

Sarah Massie

Early Childhood Grade Level Chair and Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Plummer Elementary School

My name is Sarah Massie, and I am a DCPS early childhood teacher-leader proudly serving the Mary H. Plummer Elementary School community.


I discovered my passion for working with young children in high school. In the summer I worked as a child-care employee for my local Department of Recreation and Parks summer camps. Throughout college, I took every opportunity I could to learn and grow as a novice educator. This included working as a substitute teacher for the entire four years of my bachelor's degree.


When I graduated from Frostburg State University in Maryland jobs for teachers were not easy to find. Initially, I did a lot of substituting, as did many of my peers. This experience truly prepared me for my first teaching job. I officially began my career as a self-contained special education public preschool teacher in Maryland. Those first few years I had the privilege to learn from so many different teachers and special education service providers who are masters of their craft. That experience further fueled my passion to serve our youngest learners and their families. My early teaching experiences taught me the true value of building relationships with students, families, and school stakeholders. Shortly before I left Maryland I was a recipient of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Special Education Award of Excellence for my work with the children and families in the district.


I came into DCPS as a Capital Commitment Fellow, and for the past six years I have had the privilege to work at Plummer Elementary. During my time in DCPS, I have had the unique opportunity to engage in many leadership roles while still remaining a full-time classroom teacher. Within my school community, I serve as the ECE Grade Level Chair, ECE LEAP Leader and I am actively involved in the Academic Leadership Team. I also serve as a DCPS Teacher Selection Ambassador and ECED Professional Development Presenter. In 2017, I was asked to serve on the team that developed the 2019 DC Early Learning Standards for Science and Engineering. In 2018, I was recognized as an OSSE Master Science Teacher for Early Childhood. Most recently I have been a professional development presenter at the OSSE Early Childhood Summit, the OSSE STEM Summit, the Early Educators Leadership Conference, and the National Science Teachers Association Conferences. All of these experiences have provided me with the opportunity to grow in my teaching practice which now spans over 10 years in early learning. More importantly, the experiences have given me the chance to connect with and learn from other passionate educators. The most important role I hold is serving as an early childhood public school teacher here in the District of Columbia. I love being in the classroom and I believe that it is truly a privilege to serve DC families.


Currently, amid this pandemic, I am working to be as responsive and accessible as possible to all of the stakeholders in our school community. In these uncertain times, for me, it is the relationships I have built within the walls of our school that are seeing me through. It's the phone calls and text messages from coworkers, the video chats with students and emails from their parents, and yes, it's even our thread on Microsoft Teams entitled 'Plummer Joy'. Those small moments put a smile on my face and reaffirm my long-held belief that positive relationships are one of the necessary keys to high-quality education. As we continue to navigate this unprecedented crisis my hope is that every child and family living through this pandemic, especially here in DC, feels connected and supported by their school and teachers.


March 2020

Alexandra Cady

Program Manager, Trust for Learning

What is the nature of your job?

Trust for Learning is a funder collaborative working to measurably advance equity in early learning, making sure that our country’s most underserved children experience the highest quality traditions available — what we call “Ideal Learning.” To achieve this, we engage in and support efforts around: 1) movement building, 2) expanding Head Start, 3) shaping policy, 4) improving practice, and 5) creating more inclusive Ideal Learning teacher pathways.


As Program Manager, I organize, coordinate, and enhance the quality of new and existing projects and policy-related initiatives. A large part of my work includes overseeing half of our grant-funded projects. In this role, I assist grantees in achieving their goals by serving as a thought partner to flesh out and enhance proposals, providing technical assistance throughout the duration of the grant, and implementing strategies for building on the project after its completion. I am also deeply involved in strengthening and implementing the Trust’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work, focusing on conducting internal evaluations and hosting public webinars.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

I began my work in education focused on higher education. While higher education can be hugely important to career advancement and success, it is out of reach for too many children who have been underserved by the education system their whole lives. I quickly realized I wanted to work in early education with younger children helping ensure that every child receives a high-quality education that enables them to thrive and meet their potential, whether that includes enrolling in higher education or not.


I was drawn to early childhood work because it impacts every child and because of its great potential to improve equity in our country. Especially given today’s divided, angry political climate and the current inequities and injustices in our existing systems, a highly personalized, developmentally appropriate, and joyful early education experience for every child could create a brighter, more compassionate future.


Wishes for the future of children...

My wish for the future of children is that every child experiences an early childhood education that makes them feel loved and supported, piques their curiosity, and expands their horizons.


What do you do when you are not working?

Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, going to concerts, and running. Currently, I’m in the midst of planning my wedding!


The District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children (DCAEYC) is the D.C. Affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).


NAEYC is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.

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