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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Bonnie Maloney (she/her)

Interim Director of Early Learning

Know Your Pelicans

Why did you choose to work at Packer?

I've always been drawn to Packer's vibrant community. When I started the interview process, I met such insightful people, and knew that Packer would be a great place for me to continue to contribute what I have to offer, while also leaning into my own learning and growth. I have a deep appreciation for Packer's history, and previously worked for an institution in Manhattan that was established by a Packer graduate. This speaks to just how deep Packer’s history goes in terms of influencing the field of education. I find that very, very cool.

What work have you done prior to joining Packer?

Before joining the Packer community, I was a school leader in a progressive nursery school in Manhattan's West Village. I have also taught preschool aged children, as well as First and Second Grade, all in Manhattan independent schools.

Tell us about your education.

I started at Fordham University with a BA in Sociology. I got my MS in Early Childhood Educational Leadership at Bank Street. I have also started a doctorate in Human Development and Learning at Lesley University - but don't work on that as often as I should.

What are the strengths of your department?

I get the privilege of being part of the daily events at the Early Learning Center. This is a place where the team is so incredibly committed to the development of the whole child and their family system. The thoughtfulness, ingenuity, and flexibility of the staff at the ELC is such a strength for the institution. I am inspired by the ELC team every day!

What are your impressions of Packer? Our students? Your colleagues?

The people at Packer have great energy! The students are inquisitive and dynamic, which gives me that pep in my step, too. I appreciate having the chance to see that spark in the eye of the learner, and to think about what that looks like at different developmental stages. It is unique to be able to interact with three year olds learning to sew, and in the same day overhear high schoolers in the hallway debating the meaning of a complex text. My colleagues are genuinely interested in getting to know who I am and what I bring to the table. I've been welcomed warmly, and am in awe of the Packer team's commitments and capabilities.

Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding.

I was given a note by a four-year-old student that said, "We love you because you make us feel better." It was written in inventive spelling and I could see how much hard work went into producing it. I got pretty teary when I received that because it touched the core of what I really hope to do every day - make everyone I come into contact with, adults and children, feel seen, and heard, and a little bit better than they did before we came across one another. Receiving that note was so rewarding, because it made me feel seen and appreciated, too.

Besides your subject, what's something you hope to teach your students?

My mom gave me a vintage poster that says, "No one is you, and that is your power." I want students to learn that there is something that only they can offer, even if they are doing what everyone else is doing. There's no way they are doing it the same way, because they have a unique lens for seeing the world and acting upon it. Hopefully this is an empowering idea, and one that lets them know that we are so happy they are here with us, sharing of themselves and their way of thinking.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Sometimes I think about how helpful it would be to freeze time! I would love that extra beat to respond to something more thoughtfully than I might when caught off guard, or to just take a deep breath before doing so.

If you had an inspirational fridge magnet, what would it say and why?

It would probably say, "Happy as a clam at high tide." This is something that my Nana said all the time during my childhood, and it's inspirational because it reminds me of her. And also, it is a reminder that I am content with what I already have, and have what I need. (The background on this phrase is that clams are safe from fishing boats during high tide when they can't be found. It's kind of a New England thing, I think?)


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