If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we’re joined by Robbin McCullough, director of Creative Kids Co-op—a non-profit organization dedicated to providing excellent childcare and childhood development. Before I (Anthony Crosby) get into the details of who Robbin is, let me tell you that Robbin passionately loves her work, and her work loves her! This may not come across as evident in a written medium; there were plenty of tears and emotion in the room as I, Robbin, and the Co-op’s financial overseer, Laura Tinnin, discussed the life at this non-profit. It all came from a place of genuine love!
Robbin has been at Creative Kids for over three years and has lived in Spring Creek for six years after moving here from Boise, Idaho. Robbin serves alongside a diverse group of thirteen teachers from all around the world. The inclusive child center currently serves seventy-three students as young as six weeks and as old as twelve years.
Thank you for joining us this week, Robbin! I know, through talking with you, that your affection for your job and your children is apparent. Now I want my readers to sense that for themselves! First, from where did your interest in early childhood education come?
“My interest in early childhood education came about thirteen years ago when I lost my grandson. He passed away three days after he was born, and then my daughter-in-law took her own life.
“At the time, I was working in an office, making some big bucks. However, after I lost them, I wanted to do something that would make a difference. I didn’t care about the office, getting dressed up, or going to coffee and lunch meetings anymore. I wanted to make a change; I wanted to do something for children. I had this big void I had to fill.
“So, I got a job with the school district first, working with children who will need special care for their entire lives. I loved that job even though it was a huge pay cut. My husband ended up getting a job at Thomas Pilot Logistics, so we moved to Spring Creek about six years ago. I became a teacher here at Creative Kids first, and later on, when the director position opened, I decided I wanted the job so I could make an impact in children’s lives. I wanted to be there for the lonesome kids. I wanted to be there for the kids who don’t have such a good life at home. I want to be able to give them hugs and encouragement, so they know they’re loved, appreciated, and respected. This fills the void.”
That’s a powerful motivation, Robbin. Can you talk a little bit about the teachers you have working with you at Creative Kids?
“I have a dream team of teachers! We’re all very close and protective of each other. Prior to the teachers I have now, it has been hard to keep teachers here at the school because they would leave when higher-paying positions would become available. However, now I’ve been able to keep the same teachers for over a year. I don’t think many parents realize what teachers go through; it’s very hard work! I tell my staff all the time that we’re not saints. We’re teachers! We’ve been hit, kicked, and slapped. Sometimes the job is going to get to us, and we need to take a drive to go get a sandwich and take a breath!”
Laura, I mentioned earlier that you were sitting in this conversation with Robbin and I. What’s Robbin really like as a director of this organization?
“She goes above and beyond what is required of her. I can’t express enough how selfless she is. It touches my heart. She runs this place for the kids, not for our bank accounts. Robbin will jump right in with her teachers and work double shifts in the classrooms with them. She’s not above anybody or doing anything!”
Robbin, what do you want your legacy to be after it’s all said and done? What do you want to leave Creative Kid’s Co-op being known for?
“I always wonder, if someone had been there for my daughter-in-law, would things have been different? I want to be there for these kids. I want my legacy to be so meaningful in their lives that when I die, one of my kids will still remember the time I gave him or her a hug when they were sad. That’s all I want to be known for!
“I listen to these kids with my heart and make them feel important, and by doing that, the kids respect me. These kids are my life. This is my passion; this is my dream job! I want to make Creative Kids the best place ever!”
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See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill