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From the Desk of Gigi Schweikert Dear Winning Ways Reader (and Early Childhood Professional), Like many of you, I have been working with young chil- dren all my life, since I was eighteen months old and This is me my brother David was born—the life of a firstborn with a presentin g. couple siblings. Actually, I was nine when I started officially working with children. I set up a summer camp in my backyard for the neighborhood kids. Parents paid fifty cents a day per child. Good deal for them! Teaching young children has always been my passion. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I never really thought about what it meant to be a professional until my family continued to ask me after I had graduated college, “When are you going to get a real job?” I was a toddler teacher at the time. I thought working with young children and helping to mold the brains of the next generation was a “real job”—it didn’t matter if my family thought differently. But in fairness to my family and other people who don’t always understand what we do, I started thinking maybe there is something to being a professional. And maybe we have more control over how others perceive us than we think. Do we act like professionals? Dress like professionals? Speak like professionals? I could do a better job sometimes. How about you? Caring for and educating children is one of the most important professions, and I think it’s our responsibility to educate others that we are professionals. This Winning Ways book is full of ideas to help you be the professional you really are. After you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your ideas about how you exhibit professionalism and show others we do have a “real job,” one that really does make a difference. Send me your thoughts at Children deserve our Winning Ways,