Aspen’s largest child-care center changing director |

Aspen’s largest child-care center changing director

ASPEN – Changes are afoot at another Aspen child-care center.

The Early Learning Center, which is located in the Yellow Brick Building in Aspen’s West End, announced last week that it is searching for a new director.

“We made a decision as a board that it was time for new leadership,” said LeRoy Dampier, president of the Early Learning Center’s board of directors. “So we are beginning our search for a new director, and we are really looking forward to the future.”

According to Dampier, the decision to part ways with longtime director Sara Burrows was a “personnel matter,” but he declined to elaborate further.

“There is no bad blood. … We wish Sara the best in her future endeavors,” Dampier said.

Burrows did not return a message seeking comment.

The Early Learning Center is Aspen’s largest child-care center, with classrooms for infants through pre-kindergarten.

In a letter to parents informing them of the leadership change, the Early Learning Center board wrote it is “confident that we will find someone who will work together with teachers and parents to nurture and grow (the center).”

Shirley Ritter, director of Kids First, said she is optimistic that the Early Learning Center board will make this a smooth transition for the children, families and staff.

“I do feel confident that this board will be successful,” she said. “They have already stepped up, they have opened the lines of communication, … they knew when to come to us and say, ‘We need help,’ and that is a good sign.”

Ritter said Kids First, as a department of the city of Aspen, has a vested interest in seeing the Early Learning Center – and all local child-care centers – survive and thrive despite the challenges of running such businesses.

“This is why Kids First exists, … to provide that support cushion, especially for programs that care for infants and toddlers,” she said. “Kids First has invested a lot of money and time and quality-improvement work in these programs, so we absolutely want to see them succeed.

“The bottom line is that Kids First invests in families and kids and in the programs that serve them, so we are going to assist them so long as they are working hard in return.”

Toward that end, the Early Learning Center board has named an interim director to run day-to-day operations while it searches for a permanent leader. Ryan Loeb, whose experience includes stints as a manager and counselor with Aspen Skiing Co.’s children’s ski school and Camp Aspen/Snowmass, begins work Tuesday.

Loeb was also a member of the Roaring Fork Kids/Early Learning Center board of directors when the two child-care programs merged two years ago. According to the letter to parents, Loeb’s No. 1 priority during the transition is the “well-being of the children, which includes helping parents and staff feel comfortable moving forward.”

“Ryan comes highly recommended, and the board was very impressed with him; he has a great energy that we think will make for a smooth transition,” Dampier said.

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