Grad’s dream job combines her three passions

A desire to make an impact in the lives of children and their learning journeys is the spark that has fueled Pam Lynch’s career path.

The Sherrard High School graduate selected Black Hawk College because of the early childhood education programming.

woman smiling with GiGi's Playhouse logos behind herShe earned her Associate in Applied Science in child development in 1993.

Lynch is now the site director of GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities in Moline. The job appealed to her because it combined education, special needs and nonprofits.

“It was a trifecta of personal passions,” she said.

GiGi’s Playhouse offers free educational and therapeutic programming for individuals with Down syndrome of all ages and their families.

The nonprofit also works to increase awareness and acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome.

“At GiGi’s Playhouse families are never alone,” Lynch said. “From a prenatal diagnosis to career skills, we make a lifetime commitment to remain by their side.”

Literacy tutoring, math tutoring, and speech and language services are a few of the programs at GiGi’s Playhouse.

Lynch’s duties include welcoming new families, coordinating and planning programming, fundraising, managing volunteers, and handling outreach and marketing.

Her favorite parts of the job are meeting new families and spending time with participants.

Before she transitioned to working for nonprofits in 2006, Lynch was a lead teacher and curriculum coordinator in early childhood classrooms and a paraprofessional in a school district.

woman stands behind an informational table with her daughter and husband

She worked for Child Care Resource and Referral of Southeast Iowa for 10 years, first as a parent specialist, then as a training coordinator then community relations specialist.

In 2016, she made the move to GiGi’s Playhouse.

While earning her degree at Black Hawk, Lynch enjoyed being able to stay near her family and friends.

She worked full-time while taking a full load of courses. Her busy schedule didn’t leave Lynch with enough free time to be involved with activities, but it didn’t prevent her from making meaningful connections.

Her favorite instructor was Kathryn Graver, a former instructor in the child development program, whom Lynch describes as genuine and caring.

“I am still in touch with her today, 28 years later, and I consider her a friend,” she said.

Lynch encourages prospective students to look into Black Hawk College.

She said it is a gem in the Quad-Cities that some people overlook due to encouragement to immediately go to four-year schools to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

“Don’t overlook the local community college as a stepping stone, or to get your associate degree or certificate,” Lynch said.

Black Hawk College offers a variety of transfer and career programs. Early childhood education programs are part of BHC’s Health and Human Services department.