Burlington Children’s Space Appoints New Director
BURLINGTON— Burlington Children’s Space has appointed Molly Scaife of Burlington as its new director charged with overseeing the preschool and childcare center founded in 1985 with support from Sen. Bernard Sanders—then mayor of Burlington—and his wife, Jane.
Hired in September 2022 by the publicly funded nonprofit, Scaife first served as a mentor teacher and then program director before she was named director in December 2022. She has seven years’ of experience in early childhood education and has worked in an elementary school in the Marshall Islands and served other nonprofits that support early childhood education with a focus on meeting families’ needs and goals.
Scaife holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Plymouth State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Vermont (UVM). She also holds a certificate of graduate studies in resiliency-based approaches with family, school and community and is currently enrolled in a Childcare Business Administration course through the Vermont Higher Ed Collaborative and Castleton University.
“I have experience in managing complex situations, and I collaborate well with others,” Scaife said. “I know how to balance complex tasks and meet deadlines while also being compassionate and building meaningful relationships with children, their families and other service providers.”
She is pleased to be in the lead role at Burlington Children’s Space because it is a therapeutic childcare center that provides trauma-informed services for children and families. The nonprofit partners with the local mental health organization, Howard Center, and offers the services of early childhood mental health clinicians.
The school also partners with Champlain Valley Head Start to offer support for children and families living in poverty and is the only childcare center in Chittenden County that provides sliding-scale childcare services to families.
“I am passionate about the equitable, high-quality and trauma-informed practices that the Burlington Children’s Space offers to families,” Scaife said. “I also believe our community collaborations are key in ensuring the whole family is being supported. Our space is so welcoming.”
Scaife was inspired to seek a career in early childhood education after her nephew, Eli DeJesus, was born in 2008 while she was in high school; Eli lived at home with Scaife and her family. “I spent many days in his early years taking care of him and engaging in so many different and fun experiences,” she said. “This led me to be curious about child development and how our early years impact us for the rest of our lives. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of other children.”
Excited to raise the powerful voices of the Burlington Children’s Space staff team, Scaife wants to empower her staff and include them in decision-making, and she hopes the nonprofit can make a difference in the community.
“I want to solve problems that arise and include all the voices at the table,” she said. “I also want to change the early childhood education world—retain staff with higher, livable wages, competitive benefits, and a clear work-life balance. I want to support staff in growing their careers. I want to continue to provide equitable, therapeutic, high-quality education and services for children and families in the Old North End for years to come.”
Burlington Children’s Space currently has 27 children enrolled in its four open classrooms and is licensed for up to 49. Staffing is a problem for the organization, which is seeking qualified team members so that it can serve more children and families.
Julie Dumas, Chair of the Burlington Children’s Space Board of Directors, said, “We are excited to have Molly leading the way, and we are confident she can help us expand our team of expert teachers, serve more children and families, and live more fully into our mission.”
To learn more about working at the center, contact Molly at email@example.com.