Manale runs workshops for Early Learning Center staff

Sharla Manale

By Jim Jarrett

School’s out for some teachers and administrators, but not for Sharla Manale.

The education director for the Early Learning Center said her busy months are during the summer. She runs workshops for the Early Learning Center’s staff.

“When school’s out, we are able to do a lot more staff (workshops) because one of our centers close during the school holidays. We are able to get a lot more people out.

The Early Learning Center prepares preschool students of low-income families for elementary school.

Manale runs workshops for the ELC staff so they can stay current on subjects like AIDS or shaken baby syndrome. She also monitors the Early Learning Center classrooms and offers teaching suggestions.

“It is very fulfilling. It is exciting to see our people grow,” said Manale.

According to its Web site, the Early Learning Centers of Lubbock, part of the Lubbock Area United Way, have been around for more than 60 years. The first Early Learning Center was at Carver Heights Elementary in 1943.

Five Early Learning Centers are in North and East Lubbock with each emphasizing child development and active learning.

Sharla Manale

Age: 46.
Church attended: Wolfforth United Methodist Church.
Family: Husband: Larry Manale; daughter, Ashley; son, Bullett.
Work: Education director at Early Learning Center.
Favorite Restaurant: Lujan’s Restaurant.
Dogs or cats? Dog.
Steak, salad or seafood? Steak.
(At the movies) Popcorn or candy? Popcorn.
(At the movies) Soda or Water? Soda.
Favorite types of people, serious or jokers? Jokers.

Lena Scaff, the Early Learning Center associate director, said Manale has made an enormous impact.

Every staff person has to get between 20 and 25 hours of training annually, said Scaff.

Currently, there’s about 90 staff members for the Early Learning Centers.

“She’s the one who does a lot of the training. She does a lot of research. You just can’t sit and talk to people for 20 hours. You have to get creative with games and fun ways to understand and then take it back to use it,” said Scaff.

Manale spends a lot of time monitoring classes, said Scaff.

“We use the same tool (Texas) Child Care Services uses,” said Scaff. “She does that on each of our classrooms, checking over 150 things in each classroom to make sure that we are giving the very best quality we can.”

Manale began as an education director four years ago. She said she worked for child care services for the state (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services). She worried the state would cut funding for the child care services program and leave her without a job.

When Manale learned about the opening for education director at the Early Learning Center, she applied.

“I always wanted to work for Early Learning Centers,” she said.

Manale said the most difficult challenge to overcome was being more assertive in training and monitoring. When something was wrong or could be improved, she learned to speak up.

“I am not really a confrontational person, but I still have to have this relationship with my staff,” she said.

Scaff said Manale has gotten better at speaking up.

“She (now) doesn’t hesitate to give us her opinion,” said Scaff. “She’s really been wonderful when we have a stressful time about being grounded and not taking it too personal.”

Manale said she plans to work for the Early Learning Center “as long as I can. I love this job.”

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