“I think WAGE$ is important because it helps retain staff at their child care centers, which promotes a sense of stability for the children. It also makes the teachers feel appreciated for their work, dedication to the children and helps boost their income,” said Kimberly Elliott, a Cleveland County teacher.
“Personally, it has encouraged me to take additional classes to enrich my education. It also keeps me at my current job, which I love,” Kimberly shared. “My class benefits from having the same teacher and the same routines. They also benefit from me spending some of my WAGE$ supplement on classroom resources. I feel that WAGE$ is a valuable program that encourages staff retention and education as well as rewarding teachers for their hard work.”
Moving up the Child Care WAGE$® scale is a goal for Kimberly and she is succeeding as she continues her education. She originally began pursuing a degree focused on kindergarten to third grade, but she stopped taking coursework in order to focus on having her own family. She worked in the school system as a teacher assistant for 13 years, but her long-time love for young children eventually motivated her to move to a child care center where she could work with children from birth to five. This same passion for young children also influenced her education pathway.
She is back in school, taking two courses a semester, in order to complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program is helping her do that. Kimberly said, “T.E.A.C.H. pays for my classes, which is an awesome thing. Other staff are asking me about classes and I explain T.E.A.C.H. to them too. Several of my coworkers are signing up on T.E.A.C.H. to take classes. I explain WAGE$ as well so they can benefit from both programs!”
Kimberly’s coursework has helped her grow as a teacher. “Things change and you need to keep up. To refresh what you know. I’ve had really interesting classes and I love getting new ideas to use in my classroom,” said Kimberly.
When she first started working on her degree, she said it was all “pen and paper.” She’s proud that she has successfully adjusted to online classes. “Finding time for school while working full-time and taking care of my family has been a challenge, though,” Kimberly said. “I was struggling with time management, but now I’ve got it under control. I’m even getting my assignments done early.”
“WAGE$ encouraged me to get more education because my supplement increases and I’m explaining that to my coworkers because it really is a benefit,” she said. “I am grateful for this funding. It has helped me in so many ways. It is a cushion to fall back on. I was going to drive my old car until the wheels fell off, but it started having issues and WAGE$ helped me feel comfortable enough to get a new car! It has helped me personally and professionally. It helps retain early childhood educators. We don’t make much and we love the children, so we want to stay and this helps make it possible.”