It’s no surprise that LaTida Adams has been the director of A Brilliant Beginning Daycare in Durham, N.C., for 22 years. Her journey in the early child care field started when she was in the sixth grade and wrote in her journal, “I’m going to own my own daycare.” What she might not have anticipated was the path she would take to get there.
LaTida attended Durham Technical Community College for her undergraduate degree in early education. During her time there, she gave birth to her first child and began searching for a child care program to put him in while she continued her education. “I could not find a daycare I was happy with,” LaTida said. She complained about this predicament to one of her professors who told her she should open her own program.
Having no business experience, she turned to Child Care Services Association (CCSA) for guidance. “I was placed with some great mentors from Child Care Services Association,” LaTida said. Initially, she thought she might have to drop out of school to start her child care program, but then one of her mentors told her about CCSA’s T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program (T.E.A.C.H.), which provides educational scholarships to early care professionals. T.E.A.C.H. scholarships address the issues of under-education, poor compensation and high turnover within the early childhood workforce.
“I got on the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship once I opened my daycare,” LaTida said. LaTida lived her dream of owning a child care program and enjoys working with children every day, something she believes was only possible “thanks to T.E.A.C.H.” LaTida has also taken several of CCSA’s workshops. She said, “I would not understand the value of quality child care if not for CCSA.”
Having achieved her life-long goal, she set her sights on getting a master’s degree in early education, a scholarship opportunity T.E.A.C.H. added in 2016. LaTida enrolled in the program and has balanced being both a student and a director for the past few years. “A master’s program is no joke,” LaTida said. She does her schoolwork during the children’s nap time every day as well as in the evening. LaTida said, “If I commit myself daily for two hours a day to one class, that’s more than enough.”
This December, LaTida will graduate from UNC-Wilmington with her master’s degree completely debt-free. “I am grateful and thankful because not only T.E.A.C.H. but CCSA has been very instrumental to me and my program,” LaTida said. She is eager to continue her education with T.E.A.C.H. if given the opportunity. She said, “I believe in the next two to five years, they’ll come up with a doctoral program.”
Throughout her journey, LaTida’s constant motivation has been her love of teaching and caring for children, and her favorite part is “getting them as infants and seeing them grow.” This motivation has also kept her going amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. LaTida said, “COVID showed me a better appreciation for what I do. I did not close for one day…I was able to take the most important thing off parents’ plates, which is their children.”
“Growing up, I always managed to be the neighborhood babysitter…I always knew teaching would be it, but I didn’t know it’d be daycare until sixth grade when I had that affirmation,” LaTida said. “When I look back 22 years later, this dream has come to reality.”