“I Do Make A Difference:” Appreciating AWARD$ Plus with Angie Amaro

Headshot of a woman

“Honestly, this program is simply the best! I am more motivated to be the best teacher I can be and I encourage others to continue working towards their goals of receiving their degree…Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus has made me feel as if I do make a difference in my place of work and in the lives of the children and families I give care to. It means a lot, knowing someone appreciates what I have a heart’s desire to do and is supportive of me through this program.”

—Angie amaro

Angie Amaro

Angie Amaro has always loved children, even as a teenager when she offered her services as a babysitter. Now, she is a degreed early educator. Angie said, “I love seeing their minds absorb everything. Children are eager to learn. I’m learning with them. We are learning together. I’ve worked different jobs, but I’ve always come back to child care. It is my passion. I’ve been with the same center now for almost 13 years.”

Though she hopes to eventually pursue a bachelor’s degree, Angie is proud of her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. “I’m the first in my dad’s family to receive a college education,” she said, “and getting my degree helped me to really focus on the children. I better understand what children need to learn, the different stages of development. I can help them meet those goals. I know if they are struggling and how to help them.”

Her accomplishment was the result of many years of hard work. She was teaching young children, raising her son and helping with her grandson, and it took her seven years to complete her degree. Her son was in high school at the same time, and they both graduated in 2015. Angie said, “We were learning together and crying together, but we made it through.” Angie is happy in her current child care program. She said, “I love the kids here, the staff, the administration. I’m comfortable here.”

But her site has been hit hard by COVID-19. She explained that when the pandemic first hit, they had staff who were understandably not comfortable working. She was one of those who helped the center reopen when they had the option. She said, “It was scary because we didn’t know if we could stay healthy. It was day by day, and we were thankful for each day or week we escaped it.”

But ultimately, they did have several staff and children who tested positive, including her, and the center closed for a period of time. Angie said, “We were following all the guidelines, doing all the right things. But you cannot help it when someone gets sick or has been exposed. We still haven’t let our guard down. We are prepared to close down if we have to do it again to keep everyone safe. I really hope that isn’t the case. I hope no more staff or families get COVID because, trust me, it is scary.”

According to Angie, the Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus supplements have helped to give her peace of mind, which is especially important now. She went on to say, “There is a lot of focus towards the preschool age and infant-toddler teachers know their jobs are important too because that’s where the learning starts. When AWARD$ Plus started, it made me feel appreciated, that someone knew we mattered. It has helped me want to stay even longer in my program. It has helped me financially, to be able to buy materials for the children to use in the classroom. I can pay bills. In the wintertime, it is really helpful with our heat bill, especially here in the mountains. Just knowing that I don’t have to struggle as much. I know I’m going to have something to help us through.”

Recognizing the importance of infant-toddler teachers is clearly a key goal of AWARD$ Plus, and Angie works hard to make a difference for the children in her care. She said, “I’m having an impact on the lives of the children in my classroom, and that gets me up and going. We have a bond. Those kids, oh my gosh, they tell me I am their best friend. They feel safe. That makes me love my job, that the children look at me that way. Seeing their minds work is amazing. We finger painted today and they were loving it. If you can’t get messy, you are not doing your job!”