Mary Clarke | Friedman JCC - The center for everyone

Mary Clarke

Assistant Director Illumination Early Learning Center

My journey in Early Childhood Education has been a long and winding road. It all started in 1985 when I took a position as a Preschool Teacher in a local private preschool. This was my first venture into early childhood education, but it did not take me long to realize that this was my true passion. My career broadened as I moved into a Pre K Teacher position with Hildebrandt Learning Centers. As I grew and developed, my role expanded into the position of Assistant Director. This position allowed the best of both worlds, as I was able to continue my direct connection with my classroom while also being able to have an impact on the children, families, staff, and center as a whole. After a few years in this position, I transitioned into the role of Center Director. During my tenure as Center Director, my center achieved accreditations and levels making it one of the highest quality childcare centers in the area. From there, I was promoted into the role of Regional Manager. While this position was challenging and exciting, I found that it had taken me too far from my roots, the children and families.

In 2019, the opportunity arose for me to become part of the JCC Illumination Child Care Learning Center team as the Assistant Director. I was eager and elated to be back to where my heart lies, and to, once again, have the invaluable relationships with children, families, staff, and the community. As Rita Peirson said, “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be”, and I am proud to be their champion.