SAC Gives Early Childhood Education Teachers Opportunity for College Degree

January 26, 2021

Russell Guerrero - Strategic Communications Coordinator

Early childhood education teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. Working at childcare centers, they help shape the minds of young children for a lifelong journey into learning and success in life. But for many of these teachers, their own educational journey stopped after high school and they do not receive a living wage.

Now a collaboration between San Antonio College and Workforce Solutions Alamo, (WSA), an agency funded by the Texas Workforce Commission, will provide the teachers a pathway to a college degree and increased earning potential.

According to Ana DeHoyos O’Connor, associate professor of early childhood studies, many teachers in the field have only met the minimum state requirements to work at a childcare center. Those requirements include being 18 or older, passing a background check, and training to obtain a certificate.

WSA, an agency that provides child care services and child care initiatives in the state, is funding the new collaboration. According to Jessica Villarreal, director of child care with WSA, helping teachers will also help their young students. “WSA has a mission of creating a high-quality workforce for the community,” she said.

“By investing in college degrees, WSA’s investment is not only supporting teachers who are in child care, but additionally helping to build a higher quality of care provided to children, by teachers who are committed to the profession,” Villarreal added. “Studies show that children will have higher lifetime earning if they receive a quality early education.”

For the Spring 2021 semester, WSA selected 20 teachers who nurture students from birth to five years at child care centers serving families who receive subsidized help. The teachers will receive money through WSA to pay for both tuition and books.

Through the Empowerment Center, the new college students registered for classes at SAC and received advising help to plot a pathway for a degree. In addition, the center will help with other services offered by SAC, including tutoring, the writing center, and the food pantry at the Student Advocacy Center.

The early childhood studies program will offer courses at night to help the teachers eventually earn an associate of applied science degree. Plans are also being made to help the teachers go on to achieve a bachelor’s degree by transferring to a local university.

DeHoyos O’Connor is excited about helping her new students achieve more. “The wonderful teachers coming in are going above what Texas requires. They are going to become better skilled at teaching,” she said.