After a troubled childhood, Dr. Kelly Hudson’s experience at Saybrook University—and the support of a beloved mentor—helped her realize her potential. Today, she’s helping children develop a more authentic, affirming life.
When Dr. Kelly Hudson calls herself a “work in progress,” she does so with pride. After all, she didn’t get to Saybrook University or build a successful career as a professor, author, and co-owner of Precious Little Ones Development Academy by being “finished.”
And yet, the story of her childhood makes this “work” all the more meaningful. “We were dirt poor, living in a wooden house with no indoor plumbing. Not to mention the mental and physical abuse ever present,” explains Dr. Hudson, who completed both a master’s degree and later, a Ph.D. in psychology at Saybrook. “I grew up thinking I wasn’t smart enough, and I never thought the life I have now would have been possible for me.”
She credits the Saybrook experience—and the mentorship of Saybrook Professor Dr. Theopia Jackson in particular—with helping her realize her full potential. “Theopia taught me what it means to be authentic, and showed me that education is empowerment,” she says.
Under Dr. Jackson’s guidance, Dr. Hudson integrated the work she was already doing with young children at her Precious Little Ones Academy with an individualized specialty in early childhood development at Saybrook. Her dissertation included research about the role of the child care provider in the social-emotional development of young children, a subject she had devoted her career to since 1994.
“I wanted my research to help the community where I live and work,” says Dr. Hudson, explaining that the children she serves are from multi-culturally diverse families. “What we are doing is very different, incorporating high-quality social-emotional development.”
Serving a small, select population, Precious Little Ones has built a reputation on creating customized curriculum tailored to the individual child—a fulfilling endeavor that allows Dr. Hudson to give babies and toddlers the affirming start in life she was lacking as a little girl.
Similar to the Montessori theory of education, there are no labels in Dr. Hudson’s child care center. Every child is an individual, and they are educated with a program that specializes on helping them reach their potential.
“I had one student who wanted to learn cursive by the time he was 4 years old,” she says. “So we worked with the family and created a program for him. I am very proud of the work we are doing here. Children need authenticity—something that Saybrook reinforced in me.”
In addition to her accomplishments at Precious Little Ones, Dr. Hudson has held a series of teaching roles and co-authored a book, Online Instructor Sanity: Stories & Self-Reflection to Bring Joy to Your Online World.
“I entered Saybrook lacking confidence, but walked off of the stage on graduation day with my head held high, knowing I had worked fearlessly alongside some of the greatest professors in the world,” she says.
So yes, Dr. Kelly Hudson may still be a “work in progress.”
“But with confidence,” she says, “and on the shoulders of those that came before me.”