Tanaka Eaddy has been in the same Durham child care program since 1998, providing much-needed consistency for the children she serves. She says the most challenging thing she faces as a teacher is turnover. We know how much turnover affects children, but Tanaka knows firsthand it is difficult for the teachers too.
“When teachers leave the program, it can be challenging for those of us who stay,” she said. “We may have to work longer hours for coverage and we have more to manage. I absolutely love what I do, but we truly do not get paid enough and teachers leave. This has been even more of an issue with COVID-19. Turnover affects the children when they have constantly rotating faces. They need that stability. I have one baby that really needs my assurance that I am coming back even when I leave the room. Children get so attached and that bond is important.”
Tanaka’s early childhood journey began when she was pursuing a nursing degree. She was pregnant and working two jobs. A friend encouraged her to try early childhood education. She took her friend’s advice, thinking it would help her learn more about children and become a better mother. Once she started, she realized she had a passion for it. She earned her North Carolina Early Childhood Credential, then the CDA and she became hooked. From there, she began her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and has now graduated from Durham Technical Community College summa cum laude.
Her education has really helped her grow as a teacher. “I’ve been able to learn and know why babies do things,” she said. “I understand more about their development and how to meet their individual needs. I can help them grow and learn. I want to continue to get my bachelor’s degree and maybe my master’s. My instructors are really encouraging me to come back and teach these classes!” When Tanaka takes her next educational step, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program may be able to help her pay for coursework.
COVID-19 created new challenges for Tanaka as a teacher and a student. She was furloughed for eight months, but she could still focus on her coursework because of a special COVID arrangement by Child Care WAGE$® that allowed her to receive her supplement. Now, she is back in her child care program.
“I’ve been working more hours and it was harder getting my degree, but I did it,” Tanaka said. “It has been a whole new dynamic, but we are working hard to make sure the children and the teachers are healthy and safe.”
Tanaka wants to continue providing the children she serves with the stability they need. Her WAGE$ supplements help her do that and have enhanced her life in many ways.
“I greatly appreciate Durham’s Partnership for Children and the Division of Child Development and Early Education for funding WAGE$,” Tanaka said. “It is an encouragement to get an education and is an incentive to work extra hard. It alleviates some of my worry. I want to advocate for children and teachers because I know what teachers go through every day. I want to encourage them to keep going and I tell them to apply for WAGE$ because it really is helpful.”