Student StoriesPlease tell us your story
Early Childhood Development , Florida International University
Helga, 34, lives in West Palm Beach with her husband and their two children, ages 6 and 4. In addition to being the director at a pre-school, she is studying for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development at Florida International University. She received an associate degree from Palm Beach State College, graduating with a 3.8 grade point average. Helga enjoyed getting her associate so much, she was enthusiastic about moving ahead to a four-year degree.
"I am getting new information all the time that I apply at work to help me be a better supervisor and coach. Sometimes, I even make copies of what I am reading and tell the teachers, 'Hey, look at this.'"
Ultimately, studying for a master’s degree in educational leadership is Helga’s goal. She eventually wants to land a job with a school district mentoring and helping teachers in preschools enhance their knowledge and skills about supporting students with special needs like behavioral issues. Taking classes online allows Helga to juggle all her professional and personal obligations with her course work.
“I am always busy,” Helga said. “I do school when I have time and set the schedule around my children so I don’t have to miss a lot of what is going on in their lives. That means I do work when I am waiting in the lobby for them during dance class, or I do it after they have gone to bed or on weekends.”
Helga receives financial assistance with her tuition from the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship Program and from Complete Florida.
“One of the things that kept me from going back to school for a long time was the fear of accumulating student loans, I didn’t want to do that, and thinking about it made me very nervous,” Helga said.
Helga first heard about T.E.A.C.H. and Complete Florida from a colleague who had used the services, now Helga recommends these same services to others. She tells them that if they have concerns about going back to school, they can ask questions of their Complete Florida coach.
“My coach, Matt, is really good,” Helga said. “He checks in with me often, and that makes me feel good. I never have to worry about missing an important deadline because he makes sure I know about it. This is a great help with so many emails going back and forth. Nothing is going to get overlooked.
Since Helga has been studying for her bachelor’s degree, four other teachers at her school began taking college courses. The boost in the atmosphere at the school is evident.
“People who value education, like I always tell the children to do, have an appreciation for new ideas,” Helga said. “They are open to feedback and suggestions about things such as introducing a new routine or doing a transition in a new way or communicating better with parents. We can improve everything from the children’s educational experience to streamlining policy and procedures. Education keeps everyone from getting stuck in a rut and doing things the way they have always been done.”