Finding Purpose and Passion in Early Childhood: I am WAGE$ with Wendy Boozer

“Child Care WAGE$® has helped me not lose focus on my ‘why.’ I am constantly asked why I won’t go into the school system to make more money. Money cannot buy happiness and purpose! My purpose is in early childhood education. I have no doubt that it is my calling,” said Wendy Boozer. 

Wendy is an early childhood educator working in Randolph County, but she didn’t originally plan on that career. She had a background in medical assistance, but when her daughter’s Head Start family advocate suggested she consider working with children, Wendy decided to give it shot and she has been working with Head Start ever since. As soon as she started teaching, she realized she was passionate about it.

She took EDU 119 (Intro to Early Childhood Education) and then knew that she wanted to pursue an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. It wouldn’t have been possible, according to Wendy, without the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program. Wendy said, “I couldn’t afford school out of pocket, so T.E.A.C.H. was an amazing opportunity. I would never have gotten the degree without T.E.A.C.H. I was an assistant for 11 years, but now I am a lead teacher because I have a degree. My education has helped me learn more deeply about child development and meet children where they are. I know so much more now.”

She doesn’t want to stop her educational pursuits. She has completed significant coursework toward her bachelor’s degree, but she struggled when COVID-19 forced classes online, especially when she needed to complete her math requirement. Wendy said, “I needed face to face instruction that I couldn’t take at that time. My children are older now and I have more flexibility. I want to finish my degree. It’s one of my goals!”

With the attainment of her degree, Wendy’s WAGE$ supplement will again increase. Since she began the program, she has advanced multiple levels on the salary supplement scale to reflect the pursuit and completion of her associate degree and the coursework she has earned toward her bachelor’s. She’s grateful to the WAGE$ funders and wants them to know that they are making a difference in the lives of early childhood educators. “WAGE$ has really mattered because the pay in early childhood is so low. I don’t do it for the money, no one does. I do it for passion, but the money helps. It ignites a fire. It’s a thank you. I am noticed. I matter. WAGE$ allows me to live my passion and keep working on my ‘why.’”

Wendy is proud of how far she has come in this field. She said, “I had a chance to redo my life and an opportunity opened that I wouldn’t have expected. I took a leap of faith in filling out that Head Start job application. Looking back, I wouldn’t have seen my life in early childhood, but now I can’t see myself outside of it.”