T.E.A.C.H. Celebrates 20 Years – Part 1
As we begin the 20th anniversary year of the T.E.A.C.H. Minnesota scholarship program, our Communications Director, Diane Benjamin, took time to interview our T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship staff, Erin Young and Nghia Vang.
We began our conversation with Erin and Nghia sharing that the most satisfying part of their work is helping early educators complete their degree programs debt-free. It might take scholarship recipients several years of part-time school, but as Nghia noted, “Sometimes people just need to get their feet wet. People can just do one class or start with a certificate to get going and try it out.”
We also talked about the importance of higher education for early childhood professionals. “It’s not that people can’t do it without education,” said Erin, “but education broadens and deepens their skills and abilities. It just makes a better early childhood experience if early educators have higher education.” Nghia also noted that having an educated workforce improves the status of the profession. “People still look at early childhood education like it’s a babysitting job, and it’s not. I feel like T.E.A.C.H. helps with that.”
In their time with T.E.A.C.H., Erin and Nghia have worked hard to make the program more responsive to applicants and make the scholarship process easier. They wish that more early educators knew about T.E.A.C.H. and how it puts a college education within reach of everyone in the field. As Erin noted, “Participants talk about how they learn so much and how they use the education they get in their college classrooms. It’s improved the field in terms of the knowledge, confidence, and skills of our early educators.”