Brittany Dougherty ’11 Combines Education and Entrepreneurship As Owner of Magic World Child Care
At 1 p.m. at Magic World Child Care in Nanticoke, Pa., it’s naptime.
Serene music plays from a stereo speaker while children curl up in their blankets on mats in the main room, resting with their stuffed animals.
Co-owner Brittany Dougherty, ‘11, has been here since 6 a.m., and has been teaching the pre-k kids since 8 a.m. Now that they’re sleeping, she shifts her focus to the behind-the-scenes work that occupies the rest of her day; paperwork must be completed, schedules made and plans for the future must be discussed.
For her, the work rarely stops – but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We don’t just sit here and keep stagnant,” she says. “We’re always implementing new things and trying new approaches, trying to better ourselves…for our staff, for our children and for ourselves.”
Dougherty graduated from Wilkes in January 2011 with a degree in elementary and special education. She got a job substitute teaching when she learned that a new child care center opening in August needed a director. When she accepted the job and realized she would need a partner, she knew just who to call – her twin sister, Brianne.
The two quickly got to work, putting in 65-hour weeks to give the new job the attention they knew it deserved. When they started, the center had “eight kids, a few cubbies and a cart filled with toys.” They have since grown the business significantly, buying sections of the building to convert into classrooms and taking in more than forty kids, whose ages range from several weeks to ten years old.
When Brittany and her sister officially purchased the center in June 2015, nobody was surprised; it was clear that they were both passionate about the business, and dedicated to the well-being of the children.
“It’s so rewarding to see the kids grow up in our program,” Brittany says. “To see somebody grow up in this kind of setting and to know how much they’ve taken away from our facility…you know your quality then.”
While Brittany admits she enjoys being a business owner, teaching the kids is what she enjoys the most. She credits Wilkes’ education program for developing her skills via classroom observations and student teaching, and the faculty – specifically, Suzanne Galella and Robert and Judith Gardner – for inspiring her passion.
“They’re wonderful,” she says. “They’re all so kind and you can tell their hearts are in what they’re doing.”
Brittany’s heart is in her job, too. Although she still works 55 hours a week, it’s not the not the most challenging part of the job. That nod goes to something else: watching children graduate from the program.
“When they leave, it takes everything not to tear up,” she says. “These kids are our success story.”
By James Jaskolka ’16
Christine Lee ’14 Testifies To Keep New Jersey Public Records Open
When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed legislation that would limit public access to government notices, Christine Lee ’14 was one of the journalists lobbying against the change.
Lee edits the weekly newspaper, the Florham Park Eagle, and reports for another weekly, The Madison Eagle. She joined approximately 20 newspaper editors and staff from throughout New Jersey to testify in the state capital in December 2016. The journalists argued against a bill that would abolish the requirement that municipal governments must advertise public meetings, ordinances and other proceedings in the legal notices of local newspapers.
The bill was dubbed the “Governor’s Revenge Bill” because news media accused Christie of introducing it as a punitive measure against papers who published articles about “Bridgegate,” the incident in which two Christie allies were said to have conspired to cause a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse the governor for re-election. The bill was subsequently defeated.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Lee says of the experience. “I was a reporter and editor from two small weeklies and I was sitting next to publishers and editors from some of the biggest newspapers in the state.”
Lee’s testimony highlighted not only the potentially large impact on the workforce of newspapers across her state, but also the issue of public transparency and how it is enhanced by publishing legal notices. Lee testified in December 2016 before the New Jersey State Assembly Appropriations Committee and the New Jersey State Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.
Lee was the youngest journalist to testify at the hearing, joining her co-publishers and other editors from New Jersey Hills Media, the company that owns the Madison and Florham Park newspapers, as well as 13 other weekly papers and two lifestyle publications.
Writing about her testimony in a commentary, Lee recalled, “With my heart pounding, I told the chairs of both committees that people in Florham Park and Madison want to know what their borough councils are doing. I added that there were people in Florham Park and Madison who get their news from the Madison Eagle and the Florham Park Eagle, and who can‘t figure out the internet. Public notices are what keep government transparent.
Lee has been working for New Jersey Hills Media since August 2015 after a reporting stint at the Hunterdon (N.J.) Democrat. She says the variety of stories covered by community newspapers like the ones she works for is what she enjoys most about the job. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Her beat includes covering two borough councils and three boards of education. But her most memorable stories are the human interest pieces she’s been called upon to write. “One of my most powerful stories was one about a long-time Madison police captain’s battle with cancer,” she says.
By Vicki Mayk