2024 Quality Improvement Program of the Year Award Recipient – Child Care Center

Clare Swan Early Learning Center, Anchorage

Clare Swan Early Learning Center is a unique program that is comprised primarily of Native Alaskan children and provides a rich cultural experience to those that they serve. Clare Swan strives to connect to all children, have a staff that provides high quality care, and has a Yupik-only speaking classroom. They are currently enrolled in Learn & Grow and are working to meet Level 2 this calendar year.

Carrie is the Senior Manager of Operations at Clare Swan Early Learning Center. She started her career in early childhood education very early on. Carrie began nannying and babysitting at age 12, followed by teaching swim lessons and becoming a counselor in training with Concordia Language Villages at age 15. Carrie took a brief hiatus from teaching in college to pursue a degree in zoology, but later realized her true passion for educating children. Once she came to this realization, Carrie began searching for a full-time job in the field. She worked as an AmeriCorps Member with the Roger Williams Park Zoo for a year, then with middle schoolers at RI Service Alliance for another year before heading west for graduate school.

Carrie moved to Alaska in January of 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in Outdoor and Environmental Education and was presented with the opportunity to work in rural Alaska for her thesis. From 2008-2010, Carrie worked on a collaborative project with the Kuskokwim Native Association and the Kuspuk School District, providing fisheries and watershed ecology instruction to students in grades K-12.

After completing her master’s degree, Carrie worked with Camp Fire Alaska from 2011-2018 and before moving on to Clare Swan Early Learning Center. She was initially hired to set up a Teacher in Training Program but was later moved into the Senior Manager role. Carrie is currently living in Eagle River with her wife, son, dog, and cat and loving her job at Clare Swan Early Learning Center.

Carrie and her team are open to learning new approaches and leading discussions about what each community needs to support children and families in Alaska. Carrie is a champion for early care and is on the Alaska SEED Board. thread staff members recently visited Clare Swan Early Learning Center and noticed that there were elders caring for some of the infants and toddlers – this is quite common in the Alaskan villages, but very unique and amazing to see in Anchorage.

The staff at Clare Swan are highly qualified. They strive to grow leaders and confident staff, so the children are supported appropriately using DAP and best practices. The program, outdoor area, and staff lounge are well appointed and visually display their values, mission, and support that this program is for the children and families that attend. There is a clear sense of belonging at Clare Swan Early Learning Center.