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Ann Raftery


R.E.M. (Rest. Educate. Motivate.) Sleep Education Program

23660 Research Drive
Farmington Hills, Michigan 48335
Ann Raftery can rest easy knowing the impact she is making through her work as director of sleep programs at Sweet Dreamzzz, a program that teaches good sleep habits to southeast Michigan children and their parents. She wants all children to have a fair chance at learning and growing up healthy and has designed effective curricula to help make that happen.  
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Sweet Dreamzzz Director of Sleep Programs Ann RafteryI’d have to look to our executive director, Nancy Maxwell, as I answer this -- and no, I’m not brown-nosing. She exemplifies the quality of a great leader: one whose glass is always half-full, one who encourages, one who throws you the reins to grab and run with, one who shares accolades as well as assumes responsibility if something goes wrong, and one who is very human and not afraid to say so. She also smiles and laughs a lot.
What is your dream for kids?
Wow. Well, I know it sounds like asking for world peace, but my dream would be that all kids get a fair chance at a healthy, happy and successful life. I say fair, because to say equal would be asking for world peace. It makes me crazy that all kids don’t get a fair shot. It’s not fair that all kids do not have a bed to sleep on at night. It’s not fair that all kids do not have a
...we have to have empathy and understanding for parents trying to make it under very adverse circumstances.
parent telling them when and how to go to bed at night. It’s not fair that all parents don’t have the prior experience, knowledge, and resources to properly care for their kid. You only know what you know – and often, that’s not fair.
We have a basic need not being met for many kids today: a fair chance at a good night’s sleep so they have a fair chance at learning and growing up healthy. Sometimes the best solution is often the simplest. Let’s get kids the sleep they need and deserve for a fair chance at a healthy, happy and successful life.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
We work primarily with schools in Michigan where the poverty level is in the 90 to 99 percent range. Just a few years back, those numbers were closer to 75 to 80 percent. One concrete thing that comes to mind is to improve parent engagement. To do that, we have to have empathy and understanding for parents trying to make it under very adverse circumstances. All parents want the best for their children, but they only know what they know. We need to meet parents where they are. To improve the lives of our young children, we must include the parents. The Detroit Parent Network comes to mind as an organization trying to do just that. We mirror their work as we empower parents through our Sweet Dreamzzz Parent Sleep Education Workshop.
How do you know you’re making progress?
Well, that comes in all forms. When we are in the elementary schools, it’s a smile on a child’s face when they receive a backpack of bedtime essential supplies after our sleep education program. There’s the child, upon receiving our reading book who asks, “You mean I get to keep this?”  It’s the thank you notes we receive after the program: “Thanks for the awesome sleeping bag. Now I have a bed.” And, “I used to go to bed at 12:00 a.m.; now I’m going to bed at 9:00 p.m.”
When we are in the Head Start preschools, we can repeatedly reach parents, teachers, and students throughout the school year with our two-week in-school curriculum. We have results data showing that 80 percent of Head Start parents are
We have results data showing that 80 percent of Head Start parents are reporting that their preschool child is getting more sleep after our program.
reporting that their preschool child is getting more sleep after our program.  Teacher and parents are noticing an improvement in the child’s behavior and performance in school and at home. We have preschool boys and girls nurturing their own Sweet Dreamzzz teddy bear in the classroom, cuddling them, and swaddling them in their bear bed with their bear blanket -- later getting to take their bear home to help them sleep at night. 
Parents have told me that they never thought to read with their child before bed, and now they read with their child at bedtime. We set out to get children more sleep, and in doing so, we are helping to create family bonds.
What are you most proud of?
I have to say two: I am most proud of the small Sweet Dreamzzz team I work with including our small staff of six part-time employees and our volunteer “sleeper teachers.” Their dedication is amazing. Then, I must say that I am very proud of helping to create our preschool sleep program. It’s truly making a difference in families’ lives and I couldn’t be happier about that.
What originally drew you to your current profession and what path brought you here?
I originally was choosing the path of an elementary school math teacher as I went back to school later in life for my teaching certification. I always pictured myself in the classroom. As I was back in school at U of D Mercy, and strongly believing in the need for sleep education and bedtime essentials in the low-income schools, I volunteered as a Sweet Dreamzzz “sleeper teacher” and loved it.
Then, as life often shows, paths can take turns along the way. About three years ago, as I was nearing graduation, I was asked to attend a presentation at Wayne State University where grad students were presenting their ideas for a new Sweet Dreamzzz preschool program. This is where I start to veer off my path. I was intrigued. I was excited. I was energized. I knew I could take some of their ideas and then expand upon them. I wanted in. So I took another fork in the road, accepting a job offer at Sweet Dreamzzz and have never looked back. 
The timing couldn’t have been better. Coincidence? I think not. I took the job as I received my teacher certification and completed my master’s of arts in curriculum and instruction, which has proved invaluable as I worked to expand, create and implement our new preschool sleep program. And to think I only chose the master’s route so I would be done with continuing credits required by teachers --my dirty little secret. I must add that I have a very supportive husband who has always encouraged me to follow my path while he pays the bills -- and my kids are my best cheerleaders.
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Program Profile


  • Sweet Dreamzzz
    Sweet Dreamzzz is committed to improving the health, well-being, and academic performance of at-risk school-age children and their parents by providing sleep education and bedtime essentials. Sweet Dreamzzz has several sleep programs in southeast ...


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