Farewell from Stephanie Miller

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Eight years ago, I met Marianna McCall and Laurie McTeague at our favorite diner for breakfast. We struggled with a simple question: How can we bring the exceptional early education we’ve provided to our own children to the children who need it most? We scribbled all kinds of words, circles, and arrows on the back of a napkin, imagining what could be possible. We knew the work ahead was going to be about equity: that every child deserves the very best start in life. Looking down at that napkin, we knew we were staring at a big boulder. Without hesitation, we began to push it up the hill.

One of the guiding mantras of our efforts in the early childhood field has been constant: Raise all ships. We recognized that just like in any Ideal Learning setting, healthy human development begins with meaningful relationships. We brought leaders from fragmented parts of the field into the same room and challenged them to become colleagues and friends who worked collaboratively in service of all children. Those relationships have pushed the boulder further up the hill—to the point where we can see a horizon for our shared goal.

It has been such an honor to lead Trust for Learning over these last eight years. I am stepping down at a time when the pieces are all in place and the Trust is poised for greater impact. Our new Executive Director, Ellen Roche, is going to bring tremendous experience, skill, and vision to the work. I knew the moment I met her that she would lead the Trust with her heart and mind.

As for me? I’m not sure what’s next, but for now, I may do something tactile and with immediate reward, like baking bread or growing vegetables. But I’m quite confident that more social change efforts are in my future. It’s harder than baking bread, but it’s the best kind of work there is. The parents and children we serve through the Trust taught me that. After all, underserved children push a boulder every day towards their dreams. They need our shoulders to help make those dreams come true.

Thanks to all for the friendships and the immensely rich experience. I hope you will all stay in touch with me as I explore new adventures.

-Stephanie Miller