The future of Happy Worker’s Learning Center, Inc.

Maria Scruggs

Dear Editor:

Since Bay News 9 ran the story regarding the four licensing violations levied against Happy Worker’s by the Pinellas County License board, our phones have been jumping off the hook from concerned community members.

The board, staff and parents are pleased at the show of support!  Happy Workers is the only remaining institution within the African-American community, outside of the church, that operates within its original mission, and has served as the educational beginning for so many African Americans.

Happy Workers has thrived for 87 years under the leadership of various volunteer boards. In most cases they possessed the passion to see this institution remain and an evolve as the early childhood education industry demands.

Serving with the same passion, the current group of volunteers named the Happy Worker’s Learning Center S.M.A.R.T. board of directors has been in tact under its current board composition since November 2012. We incorporated the acronym S.M.A.R.T. into our name as recognition that we had to do things differently in light of the changing culture and relevance of early childhood education.

The acronym means strategic in our approach to early childhood education; our strategic plan must incorporate measurable and meaningful objectives; the board and staff must be accountable to our funders, our community, our families and most of all to our babies; we must remain respectful of each other and lastly we must operate as a team to accomplish the mammoth task of operating a quality early childhood education center.

In keeping with the “A” in the acronym, when the board was made aware of the second violation this past Aug., we conducted a self-evaluation measuring Happy Workers against the indicators used within the early childhood education field to define quality. From that evaluation we learned a couple of things:

• The timing of the first violation occurred within four days after the loss of our assistant director who had been with Happy Worker’s for 37 years. Shirley Sanders passed April 23, 2016.

• We had just had a licensing inspection on April 6, 2016, with no findings. The timing of these incidents served notice to just how quickly your reality can change.

Recognizing that even though the board members are not directly responsible for the daily operations, we have accepted full responsibility for our current probationary status.  We have been working along with the staff at United Way, the Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition and the Pinellas County License Board since mid-August to make the needed changes.

These changes will ensure that our babies and their families can be confident in the fact that the board and staff remain committed to doing the work to ensure Happy Workers is around for another 87 years.

In response to the number of calls we have received asking what can they do, we respond simply by saying that our board of directors is always seeking members and we are about to launch our annual appeal done at the end of each calendar year.

If you are interested in showing your continued support to Happy Workers, please feel free to send your contributions to Happy Worker’s Learning Center, Inc. to 920 19th St. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

Again, thank you for your continued prayers for our success!

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