Deborah Chubb has grown an infectious passion for advocacy. Hearing her speak about the empowerment of women in the workplace and the educational rights of children inspired an article that practically wrote itself. Deb is a mother, a lawyer, and one of the many game changers behind the Imagination Station Childhood Development Center.
Deb studied Early Childhood Development at the National College of Education, English Literature at Indiana University, and Law at Valparaiso University.
Running a private practice was not something she could do on her own. Deb had two children to think of, and she did not want to sacrifice their well being or education.
“I talked to Imagination Station. I could see that they provided high quality early childhood education. Because I had studied it, I knew what it should look like.”
Imagination Station exceeds the standards for curriculum, nutrition, and environmental safety set by the federal government. They practice child-initiated learning that adapts to the needs and learning patterns of the students, which teaches them to be inquisitive. Research shows the importance of skills like co-operative play, language, and negotiation for adulthood success. Imagination Station is teaching its students how to grow and learn themselves.
“That is what makes Early Childhood Education so unique and why I am so devoted to keeping it alive.”
Deb joined the Board of Directors while she was still practicing law. In 2000, the Board decided to create an Executive Director position. Deb applied for and received the job.
“Practicing Law was okay. But I didn’t feel like I was having much impact on the lives of women and children. The advocacy work I was able to do was one at a time. I didn’t have the impact I have now.”
As a Board Member she wrote grants, worked with public outreach programs, and advocated Early Childhood Education whenever she could. The Executive Director title demands the same tasks with greater responsibility and reach. Deb oversees every program and classroom. She continues to research ways to improve education, and she brings scholarships to other providers in her community so that they can get a degree in Early Childhood Education.
“One of the reasons I got into Early Childhood Education was to provide access to affordable, high quality childcare to women who do not have access. It is vital to women’s empowerment. Without it, they cannot further their careers.”
Childcare is the foundation for a better community. It increases the workforce, quality of life, and economic health. Children who have a high quality Early Childhood Education are less likely to depend on government programs when they grow up. Assistance with childcare cracks the cycle of welfare by empowering families in the workforce.
Deb has seen Imagination Station grow from a two-room facility to a network capable of educating over 500 students. Preschool has become much more mainstream. Licensing standards have improved at state and federal levels. Deb’s goal is to expand on all of these areas further, to continue to improve conditions for each child.
Her personal goal for Imagination Station is to add more Environmental Education.
“In my line of work, the goal of Environmental Education is to create an emotional bond between the child and their natural habitat. This is important for creating a society of responsible stewards. That's what makes them connect with the world.”
Imagination Station already encourages outside play and takes its students on field trips. Being outdoors offers sensory play and mental stimulation that cannot be achieved indoors. The sensations, such as the caress of wind or the rough grit in dirt, are soothing to children who struggle to regulate stimulation. Deb believes that one of the best ways to prevent an over or under load of input is to give children natural experiences with it.
“We have a strong natural resource here in Northwest Indiana that I love. I’m at the beach all the time; we have great forests, dunes, and park. I have a strong interest in Environmental Education, and we have a unique area here. I love this community, and I feel dedicated to making it a better place.”
The mission is ongoing. Imagination Station just received the Head Start Grant, which will help them help families become self sufficient. Their Health Advisory Board works with HealthLinc and community hospitals to make sure every child has health screenings and physicals. Deb continues to write other grants to improve childcare conditions at Imagination Station and surrounding childcare facilities.
“I thrive on challenge. When I first started this, I planned to get [Imagination Station] up and going, then go back to practicing Law. The reason I’m still here are the huge challenges that exist in the industry and the opportunity for huge improvements.”