Peopleplace Preschool Director Sessa Salas recognized for outstanding leadership

Tue, 03/19/2024 - 8:00pm

CAMDEN – Peopleplace Cooperative Preschool Executive Director Sessa Salas has been recognized as one of 20 outstanding leaders in early childhood education by the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (MaineAEYC).

The recognition from the official accreditors of Maine preschools comes as Peopleplace also marks its 40th anniversary.

Sessa Salas's journey with Peopleplace spans from being a former parent and board member to her current role as executive director, which she has held for the past 10 years. Her commitment to advocacy and community-building within early childhood education has made her a leader far beyond Peopleplaces’ blue schoolhouse, said a March 18 news release from Peopleplace.

"I feel very strongly about being an advocate for everyone in early childhood education and from all perspectives — families, teachers, children, the community," Salas said, in the release.

She has been instrumental in advocating for policy changes to ensure fair compensation for preschool teachers while keeping childcare costs manageable for working families, having sent her own children to Peopleplace with the help of financial aid.

Last year, as federal Covid subsidies phased out, Salas advocated in Augusta for new state subsidies for early childhood educators. The legislation passed, and it will not only replace, but effectively double, the old federal subsidy.

Salas also helped promote the enactment of the Paid Family Medical Leave Act in Maine, granting eligible workers up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family or medical reasons. This significant achievement was praised by the White House and national advocates as a “historic milestone” in improving the lives of working families in Maine.

In the Midcoast, Salas organized a working group of all the early childhood education providers in the Camden-Rockport area to discuss common goals and challenges.

"Sessa is a natural leader, and her commitment to community and inclusion embodies the very essence of Peopleplace," said Cricket Fuller, president of the Peopleplace board and the parent of a current student. "Her tireless advocacy at both local and state levels has positioned Peopleplace to address the acute needs faced by families in our area."

"We are immensely proud that Sessa's leadership has been recognized by MaineAEYC,” said Fuller. “This honor is a testament to her unwavering dedication to children, families, and educators. Peopleplace has been an anchor for our community and will continue to be for the future.”

To help lay a strong foundation for its future and celebrate its past, Peopleplace is inviting current and former families and community members to purchase a commemorative brick to secure a permanent place in the story of Peopleplace. The school has set a goal of raising $40,000 for 40 years.

The school invites the community to attend a June 1 celebration and fundraiser at the Camden Yacht Club, which will feature food, drinks, live music from the Right Track, and boat rides on the Lively Lady. Information on ticket sales will be available soon.

About PeoplePlace Cooperative Preschool

Founded in 1984, PeoplePlace Cooperative Preschool has been serving the Midcoast community for 40 years. Guided by the Reggio-Emilia approach, PeoplePlace offers high-quality cooperative preschool education aimed at nurturing children's creativity, curiosity, and lifelong love of learning.