For Mount Alvernia Academy’s Extended Day Program Director and longtime MAA community member, Mrs. Jan Harvey, it’s all about the children. “The children have always been my . . . my whole being . . . they are my life,” she smiled.
This is not hyperbole. Mrs. Harvey has been part of the MAA community since 1989 when her first son started preschool and joined the staff in 1998 as a Kindergarten Aide before taking over the Extended Day program in 2005.
“For me, the kids are my family,” she said. “They need more than school at the end of the day. Whether they need somewhere quiet to do homework or someone to just listen to them and a place to relax, I am just happy I can be there for them,” she smiled. Many have looked at all the happy kids running around and asked her what exactly happens during Extended Day. “One parent described it perfectly — it’s like herding cats!” she laughed again. “You don’t really get Extended Day until you’ve lived it. It looks like a loud mob of crazy kids, but they need that, they need the release.”
She loves seeing her students let loose at the end of the day because she knows it makes them happy and gives her the opportunity to get to know her students in a unique environment. “It is really their downtime, so I get to know them in a different way than teachers do. I cherish that.” She takes the responsibility of caring for every child in her care very seriously. “Keeping them happy, safe, and comfortable while they are in my care, that is my goal,” she said. Mrs. Harvey knows first hand how important this community can be and the kind of strength it can provide when one needs it most.
“I was so excited to be here when I started as an aide. My second son was starting preschool and my first was in second grade. I was so excited. Then my second grader was diagnosed with cancer,” she paused. “The community . . . I would not have survived without this community. I had meals delivered to my door almost every night for almost a year,” she put her hands up as if to say — how can you not fall in love after that? “Every September when I drive up the hill, I get butterflies because starting a school year is my New Years. My life is here.”
Mrs. Harvey’s early experience with the MAA community showed her the value of having a second family here, “whether it is a good or bad time in your life, they are here for you. It’s an amazing feeling,” she said. She has loved every minute of her time as the Extended Day Director. Also, she loves the full day child care program she started six years ago. “It is my favorite!” she exclaimed. “It is just so much fun. We have an inflatable pool for the children, we put out sprinklers, have water balloon fights. It is just pure fun!”
If only you could see her this very minute, out on the front lawn pumping up that inflatable pool by hand, smiling and laughing. All of us here at MAA are lucky to feel and see the joy she brings to our community every day. We are so grateful to have Mrs. Harvey and her incredible energy in our lives!