Peggy Brown is being honored as a White House Champion of Change for her leadership and commitment to the ideals of the YMCA.
I always wanted to be a teacher and decided early on that I would rather work with younger children – they accept you as yourself as long as you give them love and affection.
I began my career working in the suburbs, but then had an opportunity to work at Christ Child which was in the inner city. The differences between the two really struck me. The kids in the city really needed me more. They needed more hugs. They needed someone to look out for them. I just knew it was where I needed to be.
I was a teacher at Christ Child from 1972 until 1992 when I became the director of the program. At this point, I wanted to be an educational thought leader and help other teachers do their jobs and provide a strong foundation for the young people we care for to grow up to be positive citizens.
When the Y took over the center in 1994, it was welcome. The Y’s philosophy of caring for the whole child and teaching the values of respect, honesty, caring and responsibility were in line with my approach. In our community, the parents don’t always teach these principles, so it’s or job to make sure they learn them early and help them put them to work in their own lives. This is the most important thing we can teach.
My greatest hope is that the children that come through our doors become successful, happy and healthy citizens. It doesn’t matter what they do, as long as they are applying those values that we taught them in their own lives. I know we’ve done our job when my former students bring their own kids to me so that I can care for them as well. This makes me feel so good that they put their trust in me. Or when invite me to milestones such as high school graduations. It’s then that I know I’m doing my job. There certainly is no prouder moment for me than to see these kids succeed.
Peggy Brown is the Director of Early Childhood Education at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati.