Jennie Hodge has been making a difference in Leoma, Tennessee for more than 30 years.
Jennie Hodge started caring for children more than 30 years ago.
Jennie’s introduction to the early childhood education profession began at her mother’s center, which was her first job. In 1994 she moved from Florida to a farm in Leoma, Tennessee and started a program so she could stay at home with her child. Jennie is now caring for her third generation of children.
Part of her business model is connecting with the families she serves, as well as with her community. Those connections have always been her method of advertising.
Community connections are one of the ways she teaches her children. Postal workers, police officers and firefighters have all made appearances at the Kiddie Korral Preschool to talk to children about how they serve thecommunity.
Even though the pandemic was tough, Jennie says her drop off and pick up process is better for it. Parents now stop at the door where there is a communication center and parent/teacher communication occurs. Each child has their own folder with their projects, teacher notes and parent response notes. She feels this more detailed and structured process has improved her family engagement.
Jennie is grateful for the grant opportunities and resources through ChildcareTennessee.com. She was able to replace many worn items with the Support and Enhancement Grant. Through attending grant training, she received detailed information and guidance to help her complete her application and receive her funding timely.
The best part of receiving grant funding was watching the kids react to the new items. She has replaced her children’s furniture, bookshelves and cots, bought new appliances and restocked art supplies.
“They were so excited. It was like Christmas time,” said Jennie.
For new providers, Jennie has this advice – find a mentor in the early childhood education field. Having someone to talk to about what the day-to-day is really like is important and is key to your success. Mentorship provides support when the work feels lonely. She recommends building your capacity slowly and finding your rhythm. “Small is better, less is better,” she says.
Thank you for everything you do to serve your community Jennie!