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Meet Yasmin Elliano-Anderson, Director of 66 Berkeley

In just over four years at Ellis, Yasmin Elliano-Anderson has risen from being a toddler teacher at 66 Berkeley Street to director of the whole center. Ellis has created opportunities for Yasmin’s career by recognizing her strengths and believing in her ability to lead.

Yasmin had worked in childcare since 2013, but Ellis was her first full-time job after graduating from UMass Boston in 2017 with a degree in early childhood education. Yasmin started at Ellis in May 2019, just as a new toddler room opened.

Yasmin was in her element. “I grew up in the middle of seven kids at home, and I know that children learn the most in their first three to five years. That’s where I feel I can best nurture them and help them grow to go into the real world.”

Yasmin loved being the lead teacher in her toddler classroom. “It was an ideal situation for me,” Yasmin says. “My experience from previous jobs gave me the experience to know what I was doing, and I was also wide open to fresh ideas.” Yasmin thrived at a nonprofit diverse childcare center for the first time in her career. “The Ellis environment helped me adapt quickly and make my mark.”

Unfortunately, within a few months, Covid shut down all of Ellis’s in-person activities. For four months, the real world was set aside, and Yasmin, like all other Ellis teachers, was trying to support the children over Zoom. “It was a roller coaster, and I felt I wasn’t meeting the children’s needs the way I was doing before.”

Children and teachers alike struggled with the transition back to the classroom. “It was a drastic change for children to come back to a structured routine after being home for so many months,” Yasmin says. “Having us all behind masks and enforcing spacing requirements didn’t help. Kids couldn’t see our faces, and we weren’t sure they were really grasping language the way they should've been. And we missed being as affectionate as we were before!”

After this experience, Yasmin took a break and left Ellis in 2022. But Ellis soon asked her to return as Assistant Director of its 66 Berkeley Street center. Refreshed and ready, Yasmin embraced her new leadership role and, after a few short months, was promoted to Director. “It was a big change moving from a classroom to an administrative role,” Yasmin says, “but it’s rewarding to help other teachers come into their roles as educators.”

At a time when educators are often leaving to find better-paying jobs, Yasmin has succeeded in retaining most of her teachers. She understands, as the parents do, that being an early education teacher is a hard job and that teachers are there because they are deeply committed.

“Some of my teachers and I started together, and when they see my passion for the job and my success at Ellis, they are inspired in their own work,” Yasmin says. Most important, teachers know they’re in good hands, with strong management support. “It starts with CEO Lauren Cook doing a great job of recognizing and uplifting teachers. Tiffany Sheets, Claire McNally, Aiyauna Terry, and I are always giving teachers positive affirmations. And we always act quickly to help teachers address issues.” Everyone knows this is a shared mission.

Yasmin misses the classroom and visits as often as she can, but she knows that the feeling and the rewards of being with the children from 8:00-5:00 Monday through Friday are something different. In fact, Yasmin is still reaping the rewards of her past classroom role. “It’s been so rewarding to see my first toddlers graduate from Ellis,” she says. “And I get such a happy feeling when I still hear from my previous toddlers’ parents. When they send pictures, they bring joy to my heart.”

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