Heather Hamilton: Following her profession of the heart

Transcription – Heather Hamilton, Prime Minister's Award recipient

[Black screen fades up to a white background, with the following words appearing, line by line: Prime Minister's Awards. Music playing. Fade to black and then up white and grey screen with medium shot of woman, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right and voice over: Heather Hamilton, Hamilton Homestyle Daycare and Clubhouse, Saint John, New Brunswick.]

[Cut to photos, with voice over. Photos: Heather and a young girl smiling; Heather sitting at a small table with a child; inside of the daycare with toys and books; three desks on the inside the historic one room schoolhouse; a young girl smiling holding a sign; five kids walking with backpacks through a cemetery;  Heather and a young girl hitting a log with a baton; a photograph and popsicle stick model of the red, historic one-room schoolhouse; the one room schoolhouse on a flatbed with a crane; a young boy playing outside with a truck; a group of children sitting in front of a tug boat.]

A fourth-generation teacher, Heather Hamilton creatively introduces the children at her centre to the history and natural heritage of Canada and the city of Saint John, and to the world beyond. For Canada 150, they learned about flags, plants and animals, and local Indigenous peoples. They can also explore the models Heather builds of local and world-famous structures, and visit the historic one-room schoolhouse Heather saved from demolition and had moved to her centre. The children even followed a Roman archaeological dig via livestream and then did one of their own.

[Fade to black and then up white and grey screen with medium shot of woman, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right: Heather Hamilton, Hamilton Homestyle Daycare and Clubhouse, Saint John, New Brunswick. Voice over: Heather Hamilton]

[Fade to white, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in black.]

Year 2019: Province — New Brunswick
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Hamilton Homestyle Daycare and Clubhouse
Child care centre for children 1 month to 10 years
Saint John, New Brunswick

"Heather has created a wonderful atmosphere [at the centre] and holds all her educators to a high standard. … [She] is approachable, organized and a leader among early childhood educators. I am so blessed that my children have had her as a part of the educational journey."
— Parent

When Heather Hamilton, a fourth-generation teacher, could not find the quality child care she sought for her own children, she decided to provide it herself. Twenty years later, she runs her own large centre for 80 children with 16 staff, and has a province-wide role in early childhood education.

Philosophy of care

Heather provides quality inclusive child care and ensures children appreciate the wonderful stories of Canada's past, and the stunning history and natural heritage of Saint John. Heather instils the values of family, respect, community and exploration in the centre, the staff and the children.

Support of child development

  • Introduces children to the world well beyond the centre: they followed a Roman archaeological dig via livestream and did their own simulated dig; units on Canada 150 and Saint John history involved learning about flags, plants and animals, and local Indigenous peoples.
  • Employs her graphic design talent to construct child-size models of local (City Market) and world-famous (Coliseum) structures so children can explore using all their senses.
  • Advocates inclusion for children with special needs and their families by taking every opportunity to ensure all children have the same learning experience, while quickly applying for enhanced support workers to enable a child with special needs to have as much support as possible.
  • Ensures children develop the skills they need for kindergarten; children from the centre excel on provincial assessments in the year before they start school.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Supports children with additional needs and their families through involvement with the provincial association for community living and local school board, facilitating training for educators, directors and representatives from other child-focused agencies on tools and practices to enhance inclusion.
  • Rescued heritage school house under threat of demolition, repaired it and set it up as an educational museum and activity centre for the older children at her centre.
  • Was instrumental in the project to integrate early childhood education portfolio into provincial department of education, leading to marked increase in the development of standardized curriculum and levels of care for early childhood education centres across New Brunswick.
Transcription – Heather Hamilton - 2019 Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education

[Black screen fades up to medium shot of woman in an interview setting in a historical one-room schoolhouse. Music playing.]

"I don't like to be like everybody else. I love being outside the box. And it challenges me to be a bigger box and outside the limits every time we do something."

[Fade to black and then up to white with close-up shot of woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Heather Hamilton, Hamilton Homestyle Daycare and Clubhouse, Saint John, New Brunswick. Fade to black and then to close-up of Heather in the one-room schoolhouse setting.]

"We live in the oldest incorporated city in Canada so we are full of history. And I like bringing that to life for the kids. When we did our Canada 150, every room in the centre had a piece of Canada going on in it."

[Fade to black and then up to photos, with voice over. Photos: Photos of a little red one-room schoolhouse being moved to the daycare on the back of a truck; Interior of schoolhouse with Heather and two children; Close-up of child holding a cast-iron pot with two eggs; Heather with two children in costume]

"Saving our little red school house is our biggest accomplishment. They like being in this place and being part of history that they don't even know why it is here but they love being part of history."

[Cut to video of Heather's new daycare location; children reading books; Heather and children playing with an interactive sand table. Voice over.]

"Our second location has only been open three weeks. We've got some really cool things over there. We've partnered with Geopark, we're one of three Geoparks in Canada so we have a whole room set up for art, and science and nature and Geopark over there that the kids just love."

[Fade to black and then up to Heather in the interview setting.]

"There are a few things I'm particularly proud of as far as the ECE world. I've been asked to be on a couple writing teams for curriculum in our province. That's been an experience that I've taken past what we ever thought it would be. "

[Fade to black and then video of child in a toy car; Heather with the daycare children; a woman holding a baby reaching for a leaf on a tree; woman catching a child going down a slide; Heather next to an indoor treehouse with children; child with parrot hat on his head; Heather holding straw with child next to her; group of children going down a slide with a woman]

"When people share with us that we've done a good job, it just encourages us as staff and educators to get better at what we do and strive a little hard to get a little better. It's very important for us to do that."
[Fade to black and then up to Heather in the interview setting.]

"Being a recipient of the Prime Minister's Award is…it's overwhelming to me because I just do what I do because I love it. To be recognized for that is very humbling. And it makes me proud of what I do and the industry that we are in."

[Cut to video of a woman interpreting sign language for the woman on the right.  The following words appearing, line by line, on the left:  Colleen Guenette on the right: Shannon Mabey]

"Heather's a hard worker. She's always giving. She helps outside and inside of work, at home with your family."

[Fade to black and then video of woman reading a book to children; a woman holding a baby; a child playing]

"If I have one piece of advice for new educators in this field is to never stop learning, never stop asking questions and never stop trying to be outside of a box."

Get in touch!

Hamilton Homestyle Daycare and Clubhouse
70 Gault Road
Saint John NB E2M 5H2

506-652-9822
hamiltonhsdaycare@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Hamilton Homestyle Daycare

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