Appreciating AWARD$ Plus: A Breath of Fresh Air
Doris Lee is a Dare County Early Childhood Professional and onsite Administrator of a 4 star licensed facility. She is a strong advocate for Early Childhood and strives every day to be an influential resource to her fellow teachers, the children and their families as she serves in the field. She wants to raise awareness about how child care needs are not being met, including fair compensation for early educators, and the resources that are not available. Doris said, “AWARD$ Plus allows me to be able to take care of my financial obligations along with my living expenses. Our line of work deserves competitive wages for teachers and administrators to feel appreciated and respected as they fight the good fight. Early childhood educators shouldn’t be financially struggling to maintain the basics of everyday life all because they chose to work with children.”
Doris Lee is passionate about education, and she walks the walk. She has two degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and she is close to completing her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Even with two bachelor’s degrees, she pursued coursework in the field because she needed to understand the different stages of child development. “As an Administrator, I needed the child development foundation so I could help others who are looking to me for guidance and advice within the field. There was so much to learn and it is a great responsibility to lead my staff as well as provide guidance for children and their families. I have also completed hours of training that targeted my weaknesses and in return improved my overall performance in and outside of the classroom. Every classroom is unique, providing age appropriate work is essential for a classroom to function properly. Try and try again until you find what works. Observations are important, guiding and helping children go from being dependent to being fully independent with little to no assistance with certain tasks. Many think that with children under five, you are just keeping them clean and safe, but It is so much more than that. They are learning to be effective and caring members of society.”
She wants others to share her passion for education, including other teachers. Doris said, “It can be challenging to keep teachers financially interested in early childhood and motivate them to continue their education for free. Other jobs now pay more without requiring the minimum of a high school diploma, but education is so important when you are applying for a job in education. Learning is a career in education that is never over. When you have an internal thirst for knowledge and working with children, you want others around you to want it as bad as you do.”
The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program has been a tremendous asset to Doris as she completes her early childhood degree. She said, “I racked up a lot of student debt earlier in life, but I have zero cost going to school right now so I can focus on my studies and not the financial obligation. T.E.A.C.H. is a great support and it even helps as an ongoing resource. T.E.A.C.H. will help purchase your books, and then I can make them available for other teachers to use as resources. If they find interest in the book, then they may be motivated to take the class!”
Doris wants to open her own school and she believes that dream might become a reality. “And when I open my school,” she said, “I have to be able to keep the teachers.” Until sustainable, better pay is provided in early childhood, she is pleased to have access to resources like T.E.A.C.H. and AWARD$ Plus to help with retention.
Her salary supplements have been a financial blessing, according to Doris. She said, “I mow grass on the weekends with two degrees, so that gives you some perspective, but I believe in the mission so I’m hanging in there. When that AWARD$ Plus check comes, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I can relax from my odd jobs on the weekends. This line of professionalism is important because there are a lot of working class families that need infant and toddler care and sites are phasing out infant care, and this encourages schools to keep it. It is important because I’m able to focus more on my job than the financial part of my day-to-day life. When things get tight, I get my bonus check twice a year and I think, ‘What would I do without this?’”
“You want these special programs to survive,” she continued, “but without incentives like this, they are going to keep disappearing. This gives us something to look forward to. It encourages you to stay doing the work you love to do instead of doing the work you have to do.”