“A Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow”: I am WAGE$ with Aisha Tillery

I am WAGE$
Aisha Tillery

Aisha Tillery just “fell into” early childhood, but 20 years later, she is still going strong. Aisha said, “I was a single mom and a hairdresser, but I loved children. I fell into early childhood because I had my own children and the hours were helpful for me, but then I realized how much I loved the job. I knew it was what I really wanted to do. I wanted to get my early childhood degree too, but I could not afford it.”

Five years ago, Aisha moved to North Carolina and learned about the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program and the Child Care WAGE$® Program, and she finally had the resources to pursue her dream. “I am part of both programs,” Aisha said. “I’m in my last semester and will graduate soon from Fayetteville Tech with my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Then I plan to transfer to Fayetteville State University to work on my bachelor’s degree. I was never able to afford it before! These programs have helped me out a great deal.”

As an NC Pre-K assistant teacher in Cumberland County, Aisha helps prepare children for kindergarten. She said, “I love education. I love helping the children develop socially and emotionally. Every day things change and I know there is more for me to learn. Every child is different and times evolve. Being 48 years old and getting my degree means so much to me. I’m not young anymore and I’m doing it! It has made me a better teacher because I can apply what I learn in my classroom setting. It makes me proud to see the children I taught years ago and how much they’ve accomplished.”

WAGE$ has encouraged her educational pursuits. “I want to thank the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County and the Division of Child Development and Early Education for helping to make my education possible,” Aisha said. “WAGE$ makes me want to keep going with my coursework. I love what I do, but there is not a lot of money in it. WAGE$ is an incentive to do it, to keep going because there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My supplement increases with more classes. Who doesn’t like getting more money for more education when that coursework also helps change your life? You have education and you have money. It is a win-win. I don’t want to lose my supplement. It’s a big incentive.”

Aisha said, “Early educators do not make enough, and now I can survive because of WAGE$.” She wants to stay in early childhood and these funds help make that possible. “I just like to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they greet me in the morning,” she said. “I love those smiles.”