Michele Turner is part of three generations of child care providers. She got her start in child care with her mother, who opened Roberson Kiddie Lane Day Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1989. Turner later opened her own in-home day care when her children were born, but returned to her mother’s center once they were in school and began taking classes herself, earning child care credentials through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2009, she took over as Director of Kiddie Lane Day Care. Since then, Turner has continued her education in child care and earned her doctorate in fall 2018. She also teaches credential courses for the Continuing Education Institute.
Turner’s mother passed away in 2010, but the center has continued to grow as a family business, with Turner’s sister and three of her children also working there. Providing quality care has always been their focus, and they were recognized in 2018 when Roberson’s Kiddie Lane Day Care received a five-star accreditation through Wisconsin YoungStar, which ensures families of the quality of the center. In addition to this elite status, their center, which cares for over 200 kids, is one of the largest independently owned by African-Americans in the city of Milwaukee.
Many of Turner’s staff have earned their credentials through UW-Platteville’s Child Care Credential program. “It’s hard finding qualified teachers, so that is why I really appreciate UW-Platteville’s online form. So many times people can’t get out, and Platteville has all of the credentials. I tell all my staff Platteville is the place,” she said.
Kiddie Lane Day Care’s success also rests in Turner’s deep understanding of the significant role child care providers play in a child’s life. “We’re caring professionals in a caring profession. So many things we do touch people’s lives and we don’t even realize it,” she said. “When my mom passed away, I did not know how many people she had impacted. The day of her funeral, the place was overflowing. There were all of these people that had called her ‘Granny,’ all of these kids from the day care from over the years. And then there was a line of people standing up to talk to me and they were like, ‘Michele, your mom did this, your mom did this, your mom meant this,’ and I was just totally overwhelmed, because I didn’t know all of this. We don’t realize in our field how many people we’re touching. That was one thing that really hit me, because you think, ‘They’re only four or five years old, are we making a difference in their lives?’ But there were grown men crying and telling me, ‘Granny meant so much.’ And people still come into the center and ask for Granny.”
Turner’s role takes on added meaning as an instructor to child care providers. She has been teaching for the CEI since 2013 and now teaches five of the six administrator credential classes and two of the afterschool youth development classes. “I always felt like I was a teacher of teachers,” she said. “One of the most rewarding things is knowing that students made changes or continued on with their education because of you working with them. They’re excited because they love what they’re doing but now they know how important it is that they know more.”