November Message from Deb
November 1, 2017
Only as good as our teachers
Quality early childhood programs are only as good as their teachers. I’m fairly certain that my opening sentence didn’t shock you.
Years of research have shown that teachers with degrees in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE) are best equipped with knowledge of child development, developmentally appropriate practices, and social and emotional competence. Trained ECE teachers learn how to nurture positive relationships, promote health and safety, work with families, build inclusive classrooms, and pursue professionalism.
Certainly a college degree does not guarantee teacher competence, but it highly increases the chances of a teacher being effective in his or her work with young children.
Several years ago we increased the necessary credentials for teachers to work at PIC and we saw a significant increase in our teacher’s pursuing and completing degrees in the field. We celebrate every degree earned and encourage those who can, to commit to continuing their educational pursuits.
We also recognize that for some, life’s challenges have made earning that desired degree nearly impossible.
We were so pleased to see our own Caterpillars teacher Jameelah Jones highlighted in this month’s Atlantic Magazine in an article featuring an innovative apprenticeship program. This program is the first of it’s kind in Pennsylvania and gives teachers credits for their work experience, assigns a mentor (PIC Lead Teacher Joanna Footman is working with Jameelah) to coach the students, provides time out of the classroom for school work, and offers ongoing bonuses in salary (paid by PIC) as milestones are met.
We are so proud of Jameelah! In a little over a year, she will receive her associate degree and has said that she can finally see her way “through the tunnel.” You can read about Jameelah and the program in the Atlantic online.
We know that teachers need as much support as possible to be able to continue their educational pursuits. Other teachers at PIC participate in a statewide initiative called T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps). PIC maintains its own small scholarship fund to help teachers pay for books and the high cost of certification exams. We have also hosted college-level courses at PIC, to make it a little easier for teachers to take required credits.
In the past three years, 12 PIC teachers have completed associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. And currently, 10 teachers are pursuing degrees. We applaud their efforts and support them in as many ways as we can. Their hard work helps maintain the exceptional program that PIC is known for, but more importantly, their ongoing accomplishments increase outcomes for children.
I leave you with one last thought. Addressing teacher education levels without addressing the low salaries that are relevant in this field, is a fruitless effort.
For many, many years, PIC has been dedicated to offering teacher salaries and benefits that reflect the importance of this profession. But still, we cannot match what preschool teachers earn working with the same age in a public school.
We believe that all children deserve a quality start in life! Now how do we reward and retain those quality teachers? That is our goal.