Creating Change: The South Bay Early Childhood Educator Organization’s Story

The newly formed South Bay Early Childhood Educator Organization (SBECEO) increases the dialogue around how we can strengthen society through the early learning lens. What follows is the story of how SBECEO started and their plans to continue creating positive change through reflection, advocacy, and networking. It is written by the organization founders, Debbie Carey and Nichole Baumgart, two early childhood educators who work with infants and toddlers in San Francisco’s South Bay.

Our Story

by Debbie Carey and Nichole Baumgart

NicholeOur early beginnings arose from a small group of educators who came together in July 2014 to share thinking and questions centered upon Ron Lally’s book For Our Babies: Ending the Invisible Neglect of America’s Babies.  Educators started to ask questions of what they were noticing in their own practices, public policies, and parenting experiences. The evening dialogue lent itself to a shared skype discussion with Ron himself. After being inspired by Ron’s suggestions that night, more educators started to share their greater work in the community and networks were formed.

At the same time, some educators from the For Our Babies Book Club were actively pursuing bringing reflective gathering opportunities for educators in the South Bay through their partnership with Mills College. This reflective stance was already happening at Mills College and a few graduated educators wanted to bring a similar version down to the South Bay. Through the mentorship of a Mills College Professor Julie Nicholson, the group was able to begin their reflective offering to the community, out of which many local organizations, early learning community professionals, and colleges have participated.

So, this group was united together and dyadically influenced by efforts of the For Our Babies book club group and Mills College’s reflective leadership stance to their broader Alumnus. Ultimately, a south bay organization made up of educators took hold and the South Bay Early Childhood Educator Organization was born. The group is a grassroots organization committed and empowered to the betterment of early childhood education and early childhood educator outcomes through reflective practices, advocacy, and awareness. The hope with our work is to invite a diverse group of leaders consisting of early educators and professionals, policy members, families, healthcare professionals, and other community members to think deeply about the issues that matter to our South Bay Community.

On March 23, 2015 The South Bay Early Childhood Educator Organization hosted a screening of The Raising of America, a forthcoming PBS documentary exploring how a strong start for all of our children can lead to a healthier, safer, better educated and more prosperous and equitable America. This screening was followed by a thoughtful panel discussion focused on the California Medical Leave Act. The event place at the San Jose Conference Room at the Santa Clara County Office of Education and featured the following panelists:

  • Dr. Kelley Abrams, developmental psychologist and an internationally known expert in attachment.
  • Julie Nicholson, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Education at Mills College and directs the Center for Play Research.
  • Jenya Cassidy, statewide Director of the California Work & Family Coalition.
  • Julie Weatherston, Senior Program Associate with the Center for Child and Family Studies at WestEd and Communications Director for WestEd’s For Our Babies campaign.

Audience members gained information on their employment rights, ways they can further support their community/families to create a stronger, healthier, and more innovative children for our future.  Topics discussed included the value of play & strong social relationships, impacts that fiscal stress has on families, and the larger social outcomes to healthy families.

SBECEO envisions more conversations like the Raising of America screening event where a diverse group of leaders consisting of early educators and professionals, policy members, families, health care professionals, and other community members come together to think deeply about the issues that matter to our early learning outcomes within early learning community. If you live in the South Bay area, we encourage you to join us in our efforts. If you live elsewhere we encourage you to start a similar organization in your area and let us know about what you’re doing so we can share ideas and resources. Together we can make a difference!

Debbie C


Please visit South Bay Early Childhood Educators Organization to learn more about the group and future events.


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