In honor of National Education Week (November 13th – 17th), we are excited to take this opportunity to feature the educators from our Head Start and Educational Services programs.

Venise Hardy is being featured for her “teamwork, innovation, and excellence” in improving the education of children and youth throughout Chicagoland.

Learn more about Venise in this interview:

How long have you been working with Ada S. McKinley?
“I’ve worked for Ada S. McKinley for 27 years.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to advocate for educational, economic, and social equity and empowerment for youth, their families, and the communities we serve. It is equally as rewarding to witness my colleagues and my teams’ resilience, dedication, and determination to impact youth’s lives positively and profoundly by helping them envision and prepare for a future that is even brighter than what they imagined it could be.”

What makes you proud to work with Ada S. McKinley?
“I am proud to work with Ada S. McKinley because of its historic legacy of service and more than 100 years of commitment to the community. Since founded by Ada Sophia McKinley in 1919, I am pleased that the agency has continued to evolve and find ways to meet the moment’s challenges, whether racial or social injustices, educational inequities, economic disparities, or mental and physical health crises. Ada S. McKinley not only answers the call to action but implements solutions.”

What is something that you’ve learned while working as an educator?
“The one thing I have learned as an educator is to pace myself and know that you may not resolve every situation in just one attempt, but rather, it might require a series of strategic, incremental steps. If people-centered, passion-driven, and applied consistently, these steps will inevitably translate into sustainable results and attainable outcomes.”

What is one piece of advice would you give to a person who is new to the education field?
“I advise new educators to give themselves some grace, trust their instincts, and allow their passion for education to guide their decisions. Always strive to be more than just a good example. Strive to be the epitome of excellence in all you do because it matters to those around you. Most significantly, it matters to those who have entrusted you to guide their educational growth and development.”

What is one fun fact about yourself?
“The one fun fact that most would be surprised by is that while I love traveling and spending time with family and friends, I am a die-hard, multiple game-watching in a single day, talk shows, podcast-loving, and fantasy draft pick advising NBA and NFL sports fanatic!”