When you love working with kids, you don’t have to be in a classroom to get your inspiration. That’s what Patricia Grace learned after giving up the teaching profession to join the KidsCare team four years ago.
“I was looking for a change from teaching computer science for grades K through 6,” she said. “I knew I still wanted to work with kids – that was a must! KidsCare seemed like the perfect fit. It was what I was looking for exactly.”
Grace supervises the KidsCare sites at Model Elementary, Waterford Elementary and the Nappanee Club. She said she loves the challenge that kids provide every day.
“They’re fun. They’re brutally honest, and you never know what to expect. They keep me on my toes, and I like that,” she said. “It can be challenging at times, but those are the kids who need you the most.”
Grace is in charge of Indiana Kids programming for KidsCare. The overall goal of the program is to increase children’s scores on the reading and math fluency sub-tests. Children also learn about college, career, job readiness, workforce skill development, leadership development, and alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention programming.
“I look for anything educational, but it has to have a fun component. I know kids learn better when they’re having fun. Many times, they don’t even realize they’re learning things while they’re doing it,” she said.
As she’s helping the team develop programming for Camp Koda this summer, she wants things that are hands-on and fun.
“We get to do so much more with experiments when we’re there all day. Everything is out of the box. Anything and everything is possible when we’re out there,” Grace said.
She defines success as getting through to a kid who has been struggling.
“When you break through the barrier that they have and you get them to smile and spend time with you, you know you’re making a difference in someone’s life. Knowing I’m brightening their day brightens mine as well.”