Appreciating AWARD$ Plus: Veronica Pigford

“I Want to Thank AWARD$ Plus for Coming to My Rescue”

Veronica Pigford loves working with two-year-olds, but she didn’t start with this age group. “I came here for a summer job when I was working in the public school system and I just fell in love with infants and toddlers,” Veronica said. “I love all the children, but I am so happy working with the twos. They love you so much. They cling to you. They appreciate you and are eager to learn new things. I really like being part of that.”

Veronica expected to go down a different path. She obtained a degree in criminal justice to become a probation officer. Being a teacher wasn’t her long-term plan, but when she began working with four-year-olds as a teacher assistant in the public school system, she knew she wanted to change course and go back to school for her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Veronica said, “Education in the field is important if you want to see kids grow appropriately. I’m better prepared in my classroom because of my degree.”

As much as she loves working with children, it does have its challenges. According to Veronica, those challenges can be summed up in one word – money. She said, “It seems like you are misled about how low the pay really is, even though the work is so important. I have two degrees! I should make more money than I am. I do more than is required for me to do, but I love the children and seeing their faces, so I try to stay. I love the parents and many of them really understand and appreciate what we are doing. I love the warmth that goes through you when children you have taught come back years later to see you, and you know that you contributed to their growth. Even when they go to college, to know that you were a part of that, it matters. I’m proud when parents want their other children to be in my room. It lets me know I’m doing something right!”

Veronica participated in the Child Care WAGE$® Program years ago when it was available in New Hanover County, and she said she was honored when Infant-Toddler AWARD$® Plus again made salary supplements available to her. It helps with the financial challenges of working in early childhood. “I want to thank AWARD$ Plus for coming to my rescue,” Veronica said. “It has helped me with bills, with paying for my education and with purchasing things I needed for my classroom. It came right when I needed it.”

She’s grateful to the Division of Child Development and Early Education for funding the program, and she said, “Please continue. It is so important, and I appreciate you thinking of us. This is keeping me in my program. You are helping us with low pay. You are rewarding us and recognizing us for what we are doing.”