15 Years of Impacting Y Kids

My Y Story: Kara Hamilton


Kara Hamilton has been teaching at the Y for 15 years. She started in the School’s Out (YMCA afterschool program) in 2004 when she was a senior at Nashua High School. “The Y has been part of my life since age four. A lot of my core memories are of the Y and it’s the same for many of our Y families – memories of childcare, swimming and dance.”

“Teaching is my passion. After high school I enrolled at New Hampshire Technical Institute in their dental hygiene program. It wasn’t for me! I love working with kids,” Kara said. She transferred to Hesser College and earned a degree in English Language Arts, specializing in Early Education and later earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 2012 from Granite State College.

Kara was hired to start the first Toddler Program at the Y. She co-taught with Child Care Director Elizabeth Witmer in what was called Munchkin Lane classroom for the first three months of the program. Kara did this for two years before moving to the Y’s Kindergarten program. She’s also taught in the 3-year-old and 4-year-old children and is now back to the Y’s Toddler program.

“I’ve seen a lot of growth in the program since I started,” she said. When Kara first joined the Y, the Merrimack YMCA had seven classrooms. Now the Merrimack YMCA’s Early Education Center has 18 classrooms and educates 385 children on a daily basis.

Kara Hamilton

Kara as a young ballet student at the YWCA in Nashua, before they joined forces with the YMCA.

“The best part of working at the Y is that I’m always so appreciative of the work I do. It’s something I love and we are here for the kids. I love seeing toddlers grow over the years.”

“We greet families at the beginning of each day and they trust us with their child’s care. I think of the Y as their children’s second home. Our job is not just as their teacher, but we are their second person after a parent to go to. We want to be warm and welcoming, and for the children to be as comfortable here as they are in their own house.”

“Something I keep thinking about is that I’ve always hoped my time with the Y has been just as impactful to the children in my care as it has been for my own family. I will always love this organization and everything it stands for ❤️”


When asked why she stays at the Y, Kara said, “I value the mission of bringing families together. The Y is a place for the entire community. The Y has been very impactful for myself and my family. I like showing the same care that my own kids have received. I appreciate the Y so much always for being a positive place for me.”

The Hamilton Family

Kara is married and is the mother to two children: Makenna (age 11) and Owen (age 5). Makenna started at the Y in childcare at age 13 months and Owen started at age 3 months. Owen now attends Kindergarten at the Early Education Center. Her children have enjoyed gymnastics classes, dance classes, and swimming at the Y over the years.

Kara’s husband Derek also worked at the Y years ago as a site director for the School’s Out program. Although they didn’t meet as YMCA colleagues, Amy Doyle who knew both Kara and Derek through her employment at the Y thought they would be a great couple, and mentioned it time and time again to both of them! Kara and Derek did meet (outside of the Y) when they were both in college. They’ve been married for 14 years.

As we closed out the interview, Kara wanted to share this: “My son is in kindergarten at the Y. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, discovered because the Y advocates for him. His teachers Sarah Simoneau, Kim Chaput and Liya Biswas took so much time to get to know Owen. They were instrumental in connecting me to the school district to get the services Owen needs. Y teachers are the biggest advocates for kids and what’s best for them,” she said.


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