CEO of The Ivy Academy of Early Learning and North End Youth Center
“Amy is the epitome of leadership, care, compassion, and just love”
Meet the Chief Executive Officer The Ivy Academy of Early Learning and North End Youth Center, Amy Hitchinson.
A passionate advocate and leader in the field, Amy's commitment is a testament to her leadership and experience. For the past thirty-six years, including the past 10 years as Chief Executive Officer, Amy has served the executive leadership team at The Ivy Academy & North End Youth Center, a non-profit with nearly 50 employees in the Fox Valley locations, serving 500 children and families annually. Ms. Hitchinson has overseen program expansion in the areas of mental health, community wellness, and legal services.
“Our mission is to provide quality early childhood education and related services while striving to empower young children through family-friendly support and schooling.”
Amy Hitchinson, brings a whole new insight into the field of Early Childhood Education. Danielle Galvan, Director of Operations of The Ivy Academy of Early Learning, says, “She makes every woman, she comes across, find their ability to bring new ideas to the table as discussions happen. While she has completed many things throughout her life, she has inspired me to learn more through research, asking questions, and communicating with more profound understanding. She also has a vast knowledge in many fields and is able to help you find the tools to bring your dreams come true.” According to Danielle, there are many reasons why The Ivy Academy of Early Learning was born. For starters, Amy enjoys working with children and their families. “She also grew up in the Early Childcare Field and has a passion for the field. I think the biggest reason why the company became about is because she strives to empower and work with the community around each of the centers and the community, she grew up in.” Julia Flores, Chief Administrative Officer of The Ivy Academy of Early Learning, adds, “Amy wanted to create something where families knew their children were being cared for and getting an education to help create a love for learning. Amy realized there was a need for childcare, in each of the different communities, and began to provide services to families. While the company is expanding and growing, Amy wants to create a well-rounded childcare company where families can find the resources to find happiness and any help a family may need.”
As per her colleagues, Amy is all about helping families and the community. She has made this a part of her the companies mission statement and instilled it in each of her employees. “It does not matter how you are a part of The Ivy Academy; you know she cares for you and will be there no matter what. This is extended to her teaching staff and admin team,” says Julia & Danielle. “We all know she will be there if we need to talk, need help finding the right information or resource, and for any other reason. No matter who you are, a parent, a student, or an employee, Amy is there for you. For this, Amy sets the bar high in the childcare industry and in any company structure. Amy’s vision is to help those around her, and this comes out in tours, interviews, or any conversation she might have with anyone she walks past.”
Each parent/guardian who walks through the school’s door looks for something different for their children. While many childcare companies have a lot of technology in the classrooms, The Ivy Academy of Early Learning does not because they feel teachers who have tablets or computers in hand limit the hand to lend to the student, providing the proper attention to their students. Within the industry, The Ivy Academy of Early Learning continues to hear its clients, who state the desire to have more hands available to interact within the classroom then provide images of the students to share on demand. “With this, we know and understand our clients want our full attention so we continue to use the paper method as well as face-to-face communication, while we know technology is a big part of any industry, our technology is driven through the systems we use to keep track of our accounts, students, and staff. With the onset of COVID-19, we immediately went into action, completing all the necessary steps working hand in hand within the guide lines of the Governor’s Office of Child Development, the CDC, as well as DCFS, to ensure we did not skip a beat, keeping our sites open without interruption for the families we serve, not only did Amy lead the project with this, she seen the need to care for the school age siblings of our current early learning students, in true Amy fashion, she lead us to open a school age site, North End Youth Center, under two weeks, we were licensed and operated to care for 40 school age students, a great need in our community, when no other sites were open, Amy conquered!” Lorena Delgado, Executive Director, The Ivy Academy.
Under Amy’s leadership our admission’s and site director teams, continue to embrace and enroll students from all walks of life for not only the parent but the children no matter their abilities and disabilities. Some other programs would just turn them down; we welcome them with open arms and hearts collaborating with community partners to ensure the needs of the student are met within the classroom environment, rather than excluded, many early learning centers would turn these families away, Amy’s beliefs, passed through onto our team, ensures all children are embraced within our classrooms, having any type of special services, i.e. speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy are conducted within the classroom with the peers involved! As an area director, who has worked at other sites who did not share this concept, being part of a team who considers this practice second nature is one of the best parts of being under the leadership of Amy” Jessica Rogers, Area Director, Ivy Academy.
“A Loving and Nurturing Leader”
“We have helped and continue to help so many clients, so it is hard to just pick one client who Amy’s mission has helped, however one student that comes to mind, a prekindergartner from was with different site, she had been there since she was 6 weeks old, due to her diagnosis of down syndrome, not being 100% potty trained Mom was told they did not have the staffing for them to take care of her anymore. Mom called frantically, of course we assured mom, her daughter would be most welcomed, two years later, potty trained and onto first grade full of love and confidence! This student grew so much in her time with us, this all was posable because we care for the “underdog”, Amy provides the support staff for the teaching team, parent groups for those who care to participate. We have provided food to clients who are in need, we bring resources to clients, we even help find solutions and outreach programs to help those in need” declares Jessica Rogers, Area Director “Our mission is inlayed in all the aspects of our teaching rolls and administration rolls.” said Amy Hitchinson.
“Amy has inspired several women to my knowledge. I can definitely say I am one of them.” said Julia Flores, “I started my journey within The Ivy Academy as a parent volunteer in 2014. I was watering plants, washing dishes and helping wherever needed. I had recently lost my job and was not feeling too confident in myself, but Amy saw more in me. She soon took me under her wings and with her guidance I soon began to feel my worth again beginning my employment in 2015, working with parents as well in the office, with Amy’s support and guidance, I am now the Chief Administrative Officer and have a hand in all three locations. She has shown me how passionate she was about advocating for those in need. She has marched in our state capitol, Springfield and to many other hearings to advocate for the rights of the parents she served. She is committed and involved in the community through may organizations and parent building programs, including, Abriendo Puertas, Care for the Underserved, and many other community events to help show support. She demonstrates respect and concern for her staff and families and is always ready to jump in and help in any way necessary. Amy is very knowledgeable about every aspect of working in the early education field. She has worked every position and knows the in an out of the business. Amy’s perseverance is admirable. She will fight for what she believes in and pushes through any obstacle to succeed. Proof of this is how she managed to open another center in the midst of a pandemic, when other centers were too afraid to open their doors. Amy saw the needs of the working families and made it happen so that those families could continue working the front lines with peace at mind. She is a true inspiration of what I aspire to be.” Julia Flores. “When I first started working with Amy as their technology consultant/web designer 4 years ago, she had one school. She has been supporting her team and families in the local community for longer, since 1997 I believe, and It’s paid off. She’s been so successful she now opened THREE schools… and she even opened one during the peak of the Pandemic! Amazing and inspiring work!” Dil Ahdan 1DA - Helping Businesses Succeed “To help positively impact the lives of children and their families. She saw a challenge in a low-income area and wanted to make a difference… so she did. Amy thinks smart! During lock down and the height of a Pandemic she worked to get funding to open another school to add to the portfolio. Wow!” exclaimed Dil Ahdan who further declares “I worked closely with Lorena and Julia and have seen both of them grow into senior roles at the Ivy Academy. Amy has kept her staff turnover super low compared with other preschools in the USA. I’m in no doubt this is due to her entrepreneurial chops and leadership skill.”
Each visitor who bestows the doors of one of the schools, takes away a sense of calm, Amy Hitchinson strives to create an environment that is enriching, creative, loving meeting the needs of the variety of students and families served as well as the community partners, noted from Leonor Gil, Senior Consultant Northern Trust, “On behalf of Fugie (Jose Refugio) and myself I would like to extend our gratitude for making our visit such a wonderful day for us. We appreciate the warm welcome from your staff, the smiles, the donuts, the laughs, and yes, the yummy meal that I finally got to enjoy later in the day! Thank you for the opportunity to sit in on your board meeting. It is interesting to see a different environment / perspective and how each attendee contributes in different ways to make your place a top-notch business. If I had little children in need of day care I would pick The Ivy Academy hands down!!!
In summary, Amy Hitchinson continues inspiring and empowering women entrepreneurs across industries into becoming great leaders of tomorrow inspiring those who work within her team to believe and live The Ivy Academy’s mission in sync with their individual dreams. Jessica Rogers, Area Director shares, “For me personally believing in me more than I believe in myself”. "Amy is nothing but leadership, care and compassion! I cannot begin to put into words her passion for her centers and most importantly her people! She is all about making the best of life for all. She leads, cares, and loves without thought about herself. Her passion is bringing others to independence. I know and experience that every day with her and her persistence to try and get her people to homeownership. There is no other person that displays this more than Amy! Love her to pieces and she loves everyone around her. Amy is the epitome of leadership, care, compassion, and just love!!!!" - Mary Beth Wright, Cherry Creek Mortgage.
I fully enjoy introducing the world, full of possibilities to my team, our families and students we serve, a dear friend and mentor of mine recently sent this to me, I quote “you never cease to amaze me; your resolve, giving heart, courage and wisdom is never ending. Thank you. Your leadership team, powerhouses! You continue to provide the environment for the unlimited growth of the community you serve as well as the team you lead”. These words touched my heart, as a child of immigrant parents, Russian mother, Italian father, hard work, determination and most of all perseverance prevails with everything I do! Amy Hitchinson, CEO The Ivy Academy of Early Learning, North End Youth Center. IEWL
CEO of The Ivy Academy of Early Learning and North End Youth Center
Our mission is to provide quality early childhood education and related services while striving to empower young children through family-friendly support and schooling. The goal is for your child to reach his or her fullest potential in a creative, engaging, and profound way. The Ivy Academy is a constructive play center concentrating on academics through fun and age-appropriate educational activities.