As a young adult, Simone Foster never thought about a career in early childhood education. That changed when her son was born in 2006. At the time, Simone was working night shifts and provided care for her son during the day, while her mother watched him at night. She wanted to make a career move in order to spend more time with her infant son.
“I had little to no rest,” Simone explains. “I’ve always enjoyed caring for children, and with my family’s encouragement, I decided to complete the 40 hours of training needed to begin working in a child care program.
Simone knew she had found her calling after working alongside veteran early educators in a couple of child care programs. She became a strong advocate for parents and children, and was excited that her son was able to attend the Head Start VPK program where she was employed.
Education and earning a college degree was very important to Simone. She had completed some college courses, but life got in the way. It was a conversation she had with her son, however, that lit the fire in her belly to go back to school.
“When my son was in first grade, he asked me if I had finished college,” Simone said. “I told him no, and he said ‘Mommy, you have to get a whole degree, not a half. You have to finish what you started!”
After obtaining CDA and Director credentials, Simone enrolled at Tallahassee Community College and earned an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Simone wanted to further her education, but was worried about the cost of pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She heard about the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program and decided to apply for a scholarship.
T.E.A.C.H. provides scholarships for early educators to earn an Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in early education, a Florida Staff Credential, a Florida Director Credential, or credential renewals. The program makes it possible for them to afford the time and expense of going to school. By promoting higher education, T.E.A.C.H. is helping to establish a well-qualified, appropriately-compensated and stable workforce for Florida’s children.
“T.E.A.C.H. reduced the financial burden that was bestowed upon me and allowed me to focus my attention towards completing my Bachelor’s Degree,” Simone said. “I would like to send a special thanks to Martha Grant, my T.E.A.C.H. Counselor, who made sure that my needs were met in a timely and respectful manner.”
In the spring of 2021, Simone proudly marched across the stage to receive her Bachelor’s Degree from Florida International University. She reflected on how far she has come. As the current Head Start Assistant Teacher at The Early Childhood Center in Fort Myers, Simone credits T.E.A.C.H. for making it all possible.
“I am not just a scholarship recipient,” she said. “Because of T.E.A.C.H., I can tell my son that I am a college graduate. Nothing can take that away.”
For more information about T.E.A.C.H., please call 877-FL-TEACH (358-3224) or visit teach-fl.com.