4 The Visionary Director involve yourself with people and efforts working on behalf of social change, inside and outside the early childhood profession. some of the most promising efforts in the profession have come when direc- tors begin linking up with others for support and action. The Director on Fire It’s not uncommon to hear the words program director and burnout in the same breath. Our goal in writing this book is to help you avoid burnout by setting your heart on fire. We’ve come with kindling that has proven reliable. You can fan the flames with the beating of your own heart. On these pages you will find the spark of a guiding vision for directors of early childhood programs. We have seen what a dif- ference it makes when directors give attention to shaping an orga- nizational culture of collaboration and excitement. rather than just running a program, this kind of director is creating a learning com- munity and spurring others into activism on behalf of social change in the world. You will hear the voices of directors like this throughout these pages. Over the past ten years we have encountered an expanding num- ber of directors who have worked with a fierce fire in their hearts and sparked big dreams among the teachers, children, and families with whom they work. Those who have created lasting results have started by forming a strong organizational system to underpin their dreams. We’ve seen those who haven’t taken this step lose heart, lose their valued staff, and ultimately lose even their own health and well-being trying to single-handedly keep their program on course with their vision. With this as a backdrop, our revisions in this edition of The Visionary Director include a stronger emphasis on creating organiza- tional structures and systems to support your vision. The prevailing approach to quality enhancement suggests that requiring more standards, documentation, and training will improve outcomes for children. Apart from the salary issue, what about the foundational elements of a structure that provides more time and space for teachers to plan, organize, think, meet, and talk about the complex tasks of caring for and educating groups of young children? Our experience suggests that organizational budgets and infrastruc- tures contain the elements that indicate program quality. In this edition we offer ideas for organizational structures to orient new teachers to the program philosophy, pedagogy, routines, and culture.