Meet Polly

Who am I?

I’m Polly Elam, a RIE® Associate, who had the opportunity to study and work with Magda Gerber for more than 20 years.  Inspired by her challenge for me to help people who work in group care settings, I have spent most of my career as an advocate and consultant for people in the childcare field.  Caring for children outside the presence of their parents is hard work and can be emotionally draining, and yet I know many dedicated people who show up every day with a sense of purpose, wanting to make a difference.  I am so blessed to be called to this work.


How did you find FORM?

I didn’t find FORM.  It found me.  I just showed up one evening for a meeting with four people who seemed to have a passion for Magda’s work and a desire to share this work with others.

Being a strong believer in the power of community, I suggested they find a few people who might share their passion.  I planted a seed in fertile ground and it has taken root, growing deeper every year.  I am in awe for what they have accomplished in a few short years. 


What aspect of the Educaring® Approach resonates with you the most and why?

This is a difficult question to answer because I see the Approach as a “whole” that cannot be separated.  But since you asked, I will say the knowledge that the Curriculum is in the Caring (Magda Gerber). To recognize that infants experience our respect and love in the way we care for them and how the quality of the care impacts all areas of our time together in childcare. 


What are you most grateful for?

The gift of living my passion with incredible energy and a strong support system.  Having a life partner who respects and appreciates my work. 


What is one thing you do for yourself? Or what would you like to do for yourself?

I spend time with people who give me energy and spend time with a fitness trainer

three mornings a week. 


If your life was a book or song, what would the title be?

Young at Heart


What was your favorite book as a child?

The story of the First Christmas because it had a baby in the illustrations. 


What teacher inspired you the most? How? 

Miss Clara Bass, 5th Grade, Because she always let me go to the 1st Grade and read stories to the children.  I overheard her say to my mother that I should grow up to work with children.


What 3 words best describe you?

Loyal, Optimistic, Dedicated


What is the best question anyone has asked you?

“Polly, the next time you go to Minnesota to visit your family, can you take an extra day and visit Carolyn Paetzel and Beth Middleton at St. Thomas Child Care Center?”  (Deborah Solomon)

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