By Aimee Carr-Wright, teacher and center director at Kidango’s Hesperian Center in San Lorenzo. Published on February 27, 2019.
Kidango is a sponsor of AB 123, a bill that will provide access to Pre-K for nearly 70,000 additional children, and improve the quality of existing Pre-K and TK programs for 200,000 children. One element of the bill is creating a pathway for preschool teachers to higher education opportunities. Aimee submitted this statement to a recent preschool hearing in Sacramento hosted by the bill’s author, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.
My name is Aimee Carr-Wright, I’m center director at Kidango’s Hesperian Center in San Lorenzo. I’ve been a teacher for 18 years, and a center director for the last 10 years.
I became a teacher because I wanted to work with young children. When I started out in the field, experience in the classroom was one of the main things that employers wanted so that is what I prioritized. Studying for and obtaining a BA was always out of reach because of financial reasons and being able to fit it in around my work and my family; taking the required classes to keep my permit was as much as I could do.
In 2016 I began a BA in Early Childhood Education at Pacific Oaks College. I was able to do this with help from Kidango’s Education Advancement Program (EAP), which covered my tuition and textbook costs up to $5,000 per fiscal year. The course required me to attend weekend classes (full day Saturday and Sunday) 2-3 times per month, with the remaining part online.
I also had to observe classrooms during weekdays as part of the course. I did this at other Kidango centers and my supervisor was very supportive in allowing me to alter my work schedule to fit this in. I completed the two-year course and received my BA last year.
The chance to learn more about child development has had a big impact on my teaching, in particular gaining a deeper understanding about traumas that children may experience and how it affects them. It’s given me greater patience as a teacher, as well as techniques to help all children to develop.
The course also gave me a better insight into diversity, both through the coursework and through interactions with my classmates. I’ve been able to take this back with me when working with parents, and my relationships with families has strengthened as a result.
My BA is a great source of pride, and it also opens up other opportunities for me in the field. The time will come when I want to move out of the classroom, and having this qualification will be a big asset when I look for a different role in the ECE field.
I would certainly recommend that other preschool teachers consider getting a BA, for both the benefit it will bring to teaching and also the doors it will open in the future. I would also urge the government to facilitate this through scholarships and wage increases, because there are too many teachers who are in a position like mine and cannot afford and/or make the time for it.
Preschool teachers are often a child’s first teacher outside of their family. It’s a vital relationship for the child, and one that can lead to a love of learning throughout their school life. To be able to educate a child to the best of our abilities, we must be educated ourselves.
What are your thoughts on the benefits of BA degrees for early childhood educators? Leave a comment below or tweet us @kidango.