Ellie Masshour Shares How ICRI Has Impacted Her Life
As ICRI’s Chief Operations Officer and Executive Director, Ellie Masshour is responsible for ensuring that our programs run smoothly. She has been overseeing the daily operations of all our local and international programs since 1993. We had a chance to sit down with Ellie to reflect on her time at ICRI and what she has learned since beginning her work with us nearly 30 years ago.
After 27 years, what motivates you to carry out your work each day?
Being around children brings me comfort and it has become my "go to" place each day because of this. When I'm around children nothing else matters anymore, all of my stress relives itself and it becomes a kind of escape. The children give me a sense of calmness and I am so lucky to be there everyday and feel that way.
What constitutes the best curriculum for preschool-aged children?
I don't think any particular or exact program/curriculum can be considered the "best", but for me what matters most is what brings our the curiosity of the children and allows them to discover. I want them to be in an environment that encourages them to ask lots of questions and see success through trails and experiments that they conduct themselves. If that can be created with all philosophies than so be it. In my experience, I've found that a true Emergent curriculum can provide all of this with the support of other learning philosophies. I want to allow children to really be children. They are the ones initiating activities, they are the one's experimenting and getting their minds going- and all of this can be summarized into the Emergent curriculum.
What do you look for in teachers who can carry out programs for children following the "ICRI Way"?
First and foremost I look for a passion for working with children and within that comes characteristics such as loving and caring. I also want them to understand the needs of each child, be able to recognize that all children learn differently and adjust their learning styles to the needs of each of the children. It is also important for them to have an understanding of where each child stands developmentally and act with patience. And professionalism.
What was/has been your biggest surprise in working with children and families in other countries?
Especially with African countries, we are painted a picture of these poor, miserable and suffering communities when in reality it couldn't be father from the truth. In being able to work with and visit countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe I have learned that the children and families there are so happy, playful and satisfied with their lives. One thing I have learned is how important education is for them. They want their children to be successful and achieve the most they can. Parents over there want to ensure that our centers provide their children with the base to be successful when they move on to primary school. They are involved in all aspects of their child's learning and want to make sure they are receiving the highest quality care possible-and it is our mission to provide them with such.
If you could change one thing for children in the world, what would it be?
Opportunity. If there is only one thing I can do, it is to help them be successful and be who they want to be. I want all children to see the talent that is within themselves and to succeed in their achievements.
A big thank you to Ellie for taking the time to sit and chat with us about her experience at ICRI!