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Thursday, January 14, 2010

A history lesson on the INA Nanny of the Year

By Glenda Propst, Kellie Geres and Becky Kavanagh
Former INA Nanny of the Year Recipients

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the INA Nanny of the Year. We take a look back at the first NOTY and reconnect with three of the women honored with the award, who give us a look at what their nomination process was like and what they learned and value as being an INA Nanny of the Year.

In 1990, Harriette Grant was awarded the first INA Nanny of the Year Award.
The President of INA at the time felt that it would be a wonderful way to honor a professional nanny, project a positive image of the nanny profession and show the world what a true, dedicated professional nanny really looked like.

Harriette Grant was the epitome of all that a professional nanny represented.

She was a long term nanny who was smart and educated and dedicated to improving the nanny profession. She had been a nanny for over 30 years and she was the key player in organizing ADCAN, The Association of DC Area Nannies, which was the first nanny support group in the United States and holds the honor of being the longest running nanny support group in the US today.

In addition to that, she was a founding member of INA who was serving on the board of directors. Her employers raved about her, her children adored her and even her former charges maintained their relationship with her into adulthood.

When it came to choosing the nanny to represent all nannies, she was hands down the winner.

The next year, INA made the award a little more formal, they had an application process. You had to be nominated by an employer or your agency. The committee was the President of INA, an agency owner and the previous NOTY.

You had to fill out your paperwork, give your education, your background, your work history, how you came into the nanny profession, what ages of children you worked with, what being a nanny meant to you.

Your employer had to fill out a paper on their family, their lifestyle, their kids, and how you as a nanny worked with their children, how you used your skills to provide age appropriate activities and what you did above and beyond the call of duty that set you apart as a professional.

Here were the questions:
• Please describe your candidate and why your candidate should be selected Nanny of the Year.

• Nanny's contribution to development of children's skills such as how nanny has encouraged child's language, creativity, social and emotional development.

• Nanny’s Adaptability (such as how the nanny has coped with special problems, changing requirements of the child or family etc)

• Give one specific example of exemplary professionalism that your candidate for Nanny of the Year has shown. Something your nanny was responsible for, performed or responded to which you think has earned her special recognition from her peers. Put another way, tell us a good nanny story.

Then as the nominator you had to list your own references. Each nominee also had a phone interview, her employers had a phone interview and each person who gave her a reference had a phone interview where they were asked specific questions.

The nannies were scored with a matrix that took into consideration all aspects of your professional life, your commitment to your family, and your work towards improving the profession.

There were 6 nominees that year, the winner being Regarding Nannies own Glenda Propst. The Nanny of the Year was flown to the conference, picked up in limo at the airport, did an interview on Good Morning America and then went out to dinner with the previous year’s recipient and two other people of her choice.

As time went on, the NOTY award continued to change and grow and evolve.
In the early years, just the award was the award but as time went on, the agencies and nanny support groups became more involved and wanted to contribute gifts and special things to the NOTY.

Kellie Geres, 1997 Nanny of the Year
I was new to INA when I was nominated for Nanny of the Year. A member for only four years, 1994 was my first nanny conference. In 1997, nannies could still nominate themselves for the award. That was my plan. I remember working on the application during a trip with my then employer. We were flying at the time, and she was curious what I working so hard one, during the flight. I told her and she said, “we’ll nominate you”. That was the beginning of a wonderful experience leading up to winning the award.

We both worked on the application together. I even went to her office and sat with her to during her work day to go over the application, while my charge was in school. We took this very seriously. We wanted it to be the best, stand out and we accomplished that. I took great pride in putting together my portfolio. The application is similar to what it is today asking such questions as Nanny’s general ability, contributions to the development of the children, adaptability and an example of exemplary professionalism your nanny has shown.

I was one of ten nominees that year, and upon hearing the news, I was shocked, and called my boss … conversation went something like, I won. You won? I won. YOU WON! I was treated to dinner out to celebrate and numerous cards and calls.

During my reign of NOTY, the Louise Woodward incident happened. I was thrust into the media doing television and print interviews on the nanny point of view. What I really ended up doing was educating the media and the public of the difference between a nanny and an au pair. Something I find myself still doing to this day.

I also have to credit all the wonderful nannies I looked up to in my short career as a nanny up to that point, and the saving value of nanny support groups. I would not be the nanny I am today, without my involvement in nanny groups.

I take great pride in knowing I am NOTY alum, and encourage any nanny who feels they are Nanny of the Year to consider the nomination process and be honored and recognized by your peers for a job you love. I am in a wonderful class of individuals whom I am proud to call friends and colleagues. My charges are in awe that their nanny is a Nanny of the Year. I have stayed involved in this industry by serving on the INA board of directors, other nanny groups, speaking, interviews and most currently and proud to serve on the development team of Regarding Nannies, in addition to several other blogs, and co-moderator of Nanny Island.

Becky Kavanagh – 2006 Nanny of the Year
Mary O'Connor, owner of Nannies from the Heartland, nominated me. Both Mary and my employer had tried to nominate me previously but I didn't feel the time was right - either because of other things happening in my life or serving on the INA Board of Directors which felt awkward. So 2006 was the year and I was ready. Mary cited not only my long term employment as a nanny but the ongoing involvement in the nanny industry both locally and nationally in her nomination statement.

This was the first year of the implementation of a new process for the NOTY Selection Committee using an objective weighted rating scale for each area of consideration. These areas include - experience, training, exemplary action cited by nominator, volunteer work and contribution to community, application and portfolio, interview, and references. The selection committee has always used these areas in considering nominees but it was never defined as a rated or weighted scale before.

The process seemed very straight forward to me, but that could also be due to the fact that I have served on the selection committee several times years before my own nomination. I guess I was comfortable about what was being asked, but that doesn't really prepare you for the time needed to complete your portion of the nomination documents and support materials. Securing letters of recommendation became fun as I found so many people delighted to be asked. When I read their responses I was touched by not only their strong recommendations but in the examples that they cited. We don't often get the opportunity to hear from a variety of people just how much we have meant to them. I can't really describe how it feels - amazing seems too small a word. I can tell you that if I'm having a bad day or wondering if I make a difference to anyone all I have to do is read one of these letters and I'm back in business!

Along with a detailed resume nominees are asked for a list of courses/seminars/conferences, other qualifications and special skills, hobbies and interests, and your professional goals. There was a section dedicated to your professional experience, industry involvement, and continuing education. There were additional questions about your nanny journey that focus on certain aspects of the industry. Finally there were three essay questions on industry issues - these reflect questions that media might ask an INA Nanny of the Year.

Part of the process also includes an interview with one of the committee members. They also ask several questions that might be posed by media or about how the nominee would handle media questions. I remember that I was interviewed by INA NOTY 2005, Jenny Brown, she did a wonderful job to put me at ease while we went through the set of questions. Each committee tends to select these questions based on current issues - they are trying to determine how comfortable each nominee is with speaking and their knowledge base. I believe any experienced nanny would be able to handle these questions.

I think I've said this before but the process nominees go through would be good for all professional nannies to experience. Think of it - putting together a portfolio that depicts your full career experience, obtaining letters of recommendation from individuals that think so highly of you, being able to express yourself about real and significant issues facing the industry - well it's a journey I wish every career nanny would take! It was an honor to accept the award on behalf of all the nannies dedicated to their profession and the families they serve, but it was a real growing experience for me to go through the process of becoming a nominee which has even more value to me.

Today, if you look at the nomination packet it is a little overwhelming, but if you are considering a nomination this year, you need to print out the paperwork, and formulate a plan for what you are going to do and how. Just take it one section at a time, talk to your friends, get their ideas for how to best go forward, and go for it.

The nomination restrictions have been eased this year, you don't have to be a member of INA but you do have to join once you are nominated. You can be nominated by a peer, your nanny support group, your agency or even a friend. This is a great opportunity for nanny support groups to support each other and nominate a special nanny.

Are you a former INA Nanny of the Year? What was your experience and what would you tell nannies considering nomination?

Do you have a special memory of an INA Nanny of the Year or has one of them influenced you somehow?

Share your comments with us and our readers!


Michelle LaRowe January 14, 2010 at 4:40 PM  

What a great article! It's so great to see how the award has evolved. Receiving the 2004 INA NOTY Award really put my career on the fast track. Partially because I was recognized publically for my work, but more importantly, because it validated me as a professional. All the years defending why I wasn't a chemist(what my degree was in) came to an end! The award is also important to our industry as it lets the world know who/what today's professional nanny is. If you're a nanny who truly believes in what you do, loves what you do and takes pride in what you do, I urge you to consider accepting a nomination. The award is for people like you!

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