Every weekday morning, Leilani Au, a childcare center director in Honolulu, Hawaii, wakes up early to figure out staff schedules for the day. With 18 teachers and more than 25 teacher’s aides, scheduling changes are inevitable. Once that’s under control, she says, “I spend the beginning part of my day connecting with staff and checking email. I try to visit the classrooms and have brief conversations with the children and teachers, and then I greet as many parents and children when they arrive as I can.”
About 130 children between the ages of two and five attend Au’s childcare center and its two satellite locations. Au works with the center’s education coordinator to direct the curriculum, assessments, and staff professional development. She reports on enrollment, budgets, and personnel issues to the University of Hawaii, with which the center is associated. She also spends time ensuring the center keeps its National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation—the industry gold standard. In many respects, her role and responsibilities are similar to those of an elementary school principal.