Day in the Life: Debbie Esposito

- Vivian Kereki

In the 21 years Debbie Esposito has worked at UVic Child Care Services, she has helped hundreds of children, seen the centre evolve into six programs, and witnessed shifts in parenting trends. “What hasn’t changed are my goals: to ensure I provide quality education and care, and that I’m enabling children to meet challenges in a nurturing manner.”

Esposito is supervisor at Centre 2 in the Harry Lou-Poy Complex—which enrols 12 children between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. She has worked with varying age groups, but says once she experienced “toddler land” she’d found her place. “They are so inquisitive and so excited about learning. When they meet a challenge and their eyes light up, it’s very gratifying.”

Since receiving her Early Childhood Education (ECE) diploma from Camosun College in 1984, Esposito has continually struggled with others’ misconception that ECE is merely babysitting. “I get a bit defensive when people say that.” The job sees Esposito on her feet all day, leading activities, feeding, diapering and dressing the children. “When you’re tired or frustrated, you have to check those things at the door and really focus on the children.”

Even with its challenges, Esposito sees caring for other parents’ children as a privilege. “I’m one of those really lucky people that get to come to work every day and enjoy it. I love what I do.”

Esposito is proud of the centres’ high quality of programs, which she believes is in part due to the higher salaries UVic’s ECE workers receive compared with those of non-unionized ECE workers ($9–12 per hour). “Our wage still is low, but it is certainly above the poverty line, and with committed staff we are able to keep consistency within programs.”

Born and raised in Victoria, Esposito values her relationships and finds it a luxury to have friends and family nearby. As for her teaching qualities, they run in the family; her great-aunt was a teacher, as was her great-grandmother, who started one of the first one-room schoolhouses on Pender Island. Apart from childcare, Esposito also taught aerobics classes for nine years.

Expecting a baby boy at the end of November, Esposito is looking forward to being a parent herself but will miss the children and staff to whom she’s grown close—and she’s a bit nervous.

Twenty-five years in early childhood education doesn’t give me an automatic pass for parenting. I’m still going to make mistakes and I think that’s okay, as long as I’m aware of it.” After returning from maternity leave, Esposito hopes to enrol her son in the toddler program in Centre 3. “I can’t even imagine looking elsewhere for childcare.”

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Keywords: Day in the Life, staff

People: Debbie Esposito

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