Elonda Blyther: 2019 Center Childcare Provider of the Year
Florence County First Steps awarded Ms. Elonda Blyther with the 2019 Center Childcare Provider of the Year Award. Ms. Blyther is the Director of Sunshine House Early Learning Academy in Florence, SC and has been in the early childhood field for 21 years. She earned an Associate in Early Childhood Education and is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies. From an early age, Ms. Blyther knew that she wanted to be an educator; her mother—who started out as an early childcare educator but did not stick with it—was her biggest inspiration. “My mother was my biggest influence as she started her career as an educator of young children. Seeing her passion in how she worked with her students sent the desire to me. Even though her final service was taking care of the elderly, it still bridges her purpose of taking care of others which left a permanent spot etched in my heart for ensuring quality care.”
Ms. Blyther’s facility focuses on children's education, accomplishments, growth, and development. Activities are done in small group settings as well as individually. Ms. Blyther says that watching the children’s different growth stages and seeing the children blossom and develop is by far the biggest reward. Although rewarding, it does have challenges. The foremost challenge that Ms. Blyther finds is “bridging the gap” between early childhood and the transition to the public or private school sector. “A lot of times, [children] come from this nurturing environment of love and care, and once they get to school, they hear ‘let’s sit down,’ ‘let’s be quiet,’ and we have a more hands-on environment.” Ms. Blyther states that she is working on making sure that the children who attend her facility are well-equipped for making the transition.
The best advice that Ms. Blyther can give for those who aspire to be in the early childhood field is to love what you do. She says, “Many children are in the care of someone other than their parents for most of their waking hours; so if those individuals are not passionate and see their importance then we do a huge disservice to children and the world.” Ms. Blyther feels that as long as an individual has passion for what they do, they will do fine and go far. “The road has been tough but the outcome has been great! I am in love with being an educator. I will continue to extend my love of learning by teaching others to love learning. My visions and plans have been a huge part of the accomplishments I have today! Most importantly, the people that have rallied in my corner keep me grounded. I am, and I will continue to make a difference because I am walking in my purpose as an educator who leads.”