June 15, 2021

VUMC’s Patterson Child and Family Center team’s dedication to children never waivers. Not even during a pandemic or snowstorm.

The Patterson center’s commitment to providing care is simple – a love for children.

pose for a photo Monday, April 12, 2021 at VUMC Child and Family Center at Patterson in Nashville, Tennessee

Photo by Erin O. Smith

It takes a village to raise children. As providers of early childhood care and education for the children of Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees, VUMC’s Child and Family Center at Patterson knows this better than anyone. The team is a shining example of that hypothetical village.

Nominated by the Patterson Parent Group, the Patterson staff’s unwavering commitment to care – despite many challenges over the past year – has earned them the Elevate Team Award. The Child and Family Center at Patterson was recognized at the May 2021 virtual Leadership Assembly.

Guided by the child development model, the Child and Family Center views learning through play as the cornerstone of its curriculum. Children are allowed to explore materials and participate in a variety of activities, including art, music, language development, pre-math, science, and nature and dramatic play. Children develop self-esteem, independence and problem-solving skills as they make choices and move throughout the environment and experiences.

“Our goal is to provide support to our colleagues and ensure that the work of medicine is fulfilled, while our youngest learners are provided with a safe, healthy learning environment.”

As an extension of this approach, the Patterson center began implementing a new curriculum called “Frog Street” in July 2020. The Frog Street curriculum focuses on the holistic development of a child, allowing for education and play, but also creating opportunities to help children learn to self-regulate their emotions.

“Originally, the purpose of Frog Street was just to provide an educational, research-based curriculum,” said LeAnn Cole, MBA, program manager of VUMC Child and Family Services. “However, with the challenges the pandemic has thrown our way, it has provided the children with tools to independently regulate difficult emotions and treat their classmates and teachers as a community.”

The Frog Street curriculum was widely appreciated by the Patterson Parent Group. “The implementation of the Frog Street curriculum and the routine provided has been paramount to helping the children continue to thrive when everything else in the world is so uncertain,” said one parent. “The individual attention, love and consistency my daughter has gotten has made our lives as a family far more ‘normal’ than anything else has been for the last year,” said another.

Many parents expressed gratitude for the Patterson team during the early days of the pandemic, crediting them with keeping their children engaged and ready to enter the classroom again in fall 2020. One mother said, “The staff at Patterson provided support to children and parents who were doing virtual learning through weekly Zoom sessions where kids could see one another, participate in circle time and listen to books read by their teachers.”

She continued, “It quickly became one of the highlights of my son’s week. As this pandemic goes on, the teachers and staff of Patterson continue to go above and beyond to maintain a safe, familiar environment for our children so that we – as essential health care workers – can continue to go to work every day without the worry of child care.”

The Patterson center’s dedication to the children they care for never waivers – not during a pandemic, and not during a snowstorm. In February 2021, during the Nashville snowstorms that kept many people at home, the Patterson team navigated the weather and still showed up to work, ready to teach.

“I truly do not know what we would have done during the snowstorm without our wonderful teachers,” one parent said. “They continued to show up for work daily with positive attitudes and are driven to provide us the best care possible.”

The reason for the Patterson center’s commitment to providing care is simple – a love for children. “We all have an extreme love for the children we care for,” said Elizabeth Ervin, associate child care manager at the Patterson center. “We come to work wanting to provide not only the best care, but also to help the children learn and grow in all aspects of their lives.”

The teachers at VUMC’s Patterson Child and Family Center continually step up to provide care, allowing VUMC’s essential workers to do their jobs with peace of mind. This has never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many VUMC employees serving on the front lines of an unprecedented health crisis.

“We as a team know the importance of our work,” said Montreia Hardison, site manager at the Patterson center. “Our goal is to provide support to our colleagues and ensure that the work of medicine is fulfilled, while our youngest learners are provided with a safe, healthy learning environment.”

“The staff at VUMC Child and Family Center Patterson are honored to receive the Elevate Team Award,” Hardison said. “We are committed to the work we do and to our colleagues.”

If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC Voice will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.