This week, we are celebrating the amazing advocacy of Susan Ratkovsky, the Director at Ellsworth Air Force Base Child Development Center in South Dakota. Read ahead for our interview with our Advo-KIT.
Please describe your current position and your experience working with children of all abilities.
I have been in the early childhood field for 20 years. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin Stout and a Masters in Education from University of Phoenix. I have been a part of both civilian and military programs as a classroom teacher, Training and Curriculum Specialist, Assistant Director, and Director. I am also the president of Black Hills Association for the Education of Young Children in South Dakota.
What is your role in supporting inclusion?
I believe that inclusion is very important in early childhood programs to aid in the growth and development of all children. Staff members deserve the training opportunities to give them the tools to work with all children. I have made a promise to myself to never forget how challenging it is to work in a classroom every day, and I will always support my staff to continue their education and training.
What do you love about inclusion?
I love to watch children accept each other without judgments or biases. Children are open-minded people who accept each other’s differences and celebrate successes and achievements.
Why is inclusion important to you?
As early childhood educators, we need to be lifelong learners and risk-takers. We need to be the advocates for children and families to help guide them through society. The academic standards for young children are set high. I want to make certain we support those standards, but continue to focus on social/emotional development, too. I work with amazing people who are committed to early childhood education and do their best to support military families. When our program was selected to have an on-site visit with KIT, I embraced that opportunity to have all of the Child Development Center staff engage in face-to-face time with Mary Shea (a KIT trainer). They had the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and gain knowledge of all of the resources KIT provides for Air Force Programs. I am so fortunate to work with a great team of professionals who are dedicated to children and families on Ellsworth AFB.
What is your top tip that you would give to someone working with children?
Be loving, nurturing, and kind to children. It is our responsibility to help them develop into respectful citizens.
–Written by Susan Rufi Ratkovsky, Child Development Center Director, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Edited by KIT Staff. Thank you so much for all that you do, Susan!
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.