Tiffany Sheets adores children, and they adore her. Children are the core of her life, both at work and at home. She is one of six children of a preschool teacher; she is also an Ellis administrator and the mother of three children, ages 10, 4, and 1. So it may not be a great surprise that, even though she is only 37 years old, Tiffany has been at Ellis for over 20 years. She began as a 16-year-old high school aide, rising to a full-fledged infant and toddler teacher, Assistant Director of Education, and now to the Director of the center at 66 Berkeley Street.
Tiffany never left Ellis to attend college full-time. She kept working during the days as she continued her education in phases at night. She took courses first for certification, then for an Associate’s degree at Urban College of Boston, and finally for a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. As if this weren’t enough, Tiffany’s family was growing at the same time. Her first child was born as she worked toward her Associate’s degree. Her younger two are still at Ellis, one about to graduate this year. Nothing is too much for this woman with boundless energy and love to give.
“I love kids, and that’s just in my blood,” Tiffany says. “When I was little, I would sometimes pretend to be sick so I could go with my mom to her preschool. When I arrived at Ellis, I fell in love right away with the kids and their parents. Now, even when I’m having the worst day, the kids just wrap me around their fingers when I see their smiles. They’re kids and they light me up!”
Since the pandemic, Ellis and other preschools have seen many teachers leave the field, and staffing has become an ever-greater challenge. When Ellis classrooms are understaffed, people on staff drop their other work to help. Tiffany never complains about being hands-on once again with the children she loves.
In this challenging time, Ellis has been finding teachers in two ways: by word of mouth and by hiring younger teachers without college degrees. Tiffany helps Ellis succeed in both these ways. Her sister and best friend now work at Ellis, and she inspires young new teachers by telling them her story. Suddenly they see an opportunity and a bright future for themselves. And Tiffany says, “It may seem amazing, but my center is now fully staffed!”