Student Success Stories
For those who ask, "What is TECTA?" or "Is it really worth my time?", read below just a few of our many success stories from our students.
Hello Everyone! My name is Mary Dudley, my friends call me by my childhood nickname, Nina. I am a native Clarksvillian and I am a success story. In October 2013 I earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education Administration. I cannot tell you how proud and excited I was as I walked across the graduation stage and received my diploma. That day marked an important milestone for me and my family as I became the first person in my generation of my family to get a 4 year college degree. I once heard a song that said, “You don’t know my story, all the things that I’ve been through. You can’t feel my pain, what I had to go through to get here”. These words described exactly how I felt as the president of the university handed me my diploma and said congratulations.
A few years ago, if anyone asked me what I did for a living, my answer was “I take care of children. Today, when someone asks me that question, my answer is “I am an early childhood professional! My education journey began with a TECTA administrator’s orientation in 2002. After that orientation, I knew that my passion to teach children was not just about having a job. It was about making a difference in the lives of young children. My overall premise concerning early childhood education is best summed up in a poem by Forrest Witcraft that says "a hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child".
Throughout my educational journey I just wanted to be better at my job. I was determined to learn all that I could for the sake of the children. In 2004, I finished the course requirements and earned my child development credential (CDA). I thought I was done after that. However, with the encouragement of my husband, my daughter, and the support of the TECTA staff at Austin Peay State University, I went on to earn both my Technical Certificate (2006) and my AA degree (2009) in early Childhood Education from Nashville State Community College. During these years I drove back and forth to Nashville for classes. I worked full time and attended NSCC in the evening. I was often on the road late at night driving home from class. I thank my family for eating all those bologna sandwiches and hot dogs when I was too tired to cook for them. I forgot to mention also that between my technical certificate and my AA degree, I was asked to participate in the pilot program for the Program Administrators Scale for the Middle Tennessee Area. This meant that I would need to take additional classes in order to meet the qualifications for this credential. During this same time, I was in the middle of seeking National Accreditation for the center where I was the program director.
Once I completed my AA degree, I took a year off from school. I began work toward my BA degree in August of 2011. Today I can say that I have now reached one of my life goals. It was not easy, but it has been worth it. I had to push pass many obstacles, many sleepless nights, and a recent quadruple heart bypass. But four weeks after my heart surgery, I walked across a stage, with my family cheering me on, to touch my dream of being a college graduate with a four year degree. My educational journey has not ended. It is now time to apply all the things that I have learned to “real” life situations. But as I begin the next part of my journey, I do so as an early childhood professional and a degree to prove it!
My name is Christina Weathers and I have been teaching early education for 16 years. I started seeking to further my education when I learned about TECTA through a child workshop in 2003. I began to explore the idea and the opportunities TECTA offered to childcare teachers in financially helping one to further their education in the early education field.
Although it has taken me several years, I am very grateful for TECTA and its funding that allowed me to continue my education and achieve a college degree when I was not sure financially that it would be possible. I would like to give a giant thank you to TECTA and its staff for their help, support, and encouragement during this journey and I am pleased to announce I have obtained my Associates of Applied Science degree in Early Education Pre-K through 3.
I would also like to personally thank Angelia Thomas, Linda Sitton, Jennifer Jackson, Claudia Rodriguez, Brenda Jerles, and Tracy Harper in their willing, gracious encouragement over the years in helping me continue my educational journey. I am pleased to announce with the help of TECTA, I have obtained my CDA, my Technical Degree in Early Education, and now my Associates of Applied Science in Early Education. I do not think this would have been possible without the assistance of TECTA and its positive encouraging staff. Thank you all so very much!
My name is Jordan Frederick. I am a Music Education major here at Austin Peay. I have worked for TECTA for the past four years as a student worker. Normally, this entails being a labor slave for the university who is helping pay your way through, something I am all too comfortable with happening, but working for TECTA was completely different. It was unexpected, refreshing, and enlightening.
I will begin my story where it all started, with a confused phone call. I had planned on working in the music department, which seemed a natural fit, but all scholarship spots were taken. They advised me to call an organization named TECTA, and I thought to myself “What is a TECTA? Is that like TVA? Do I have to build hydroelectric damns for scholarship work?” The contact they gave me was Jennifer Jackson. I called her one afternoon and told her I was supposed to work for her. After a few confusing moments and words, I ended up in the office and got put to quick work! At first it was copying, shredding, making coffee, or filing. It then turned into making projects for child care providers, cutting out shapes for them to use, making posters, class materials, helping set up for classes, and making TECTA newsletters, and a host of other things. I slowly realized, I am in a department that educates educators! I was a part, though small and indirectly, of shaping people, and children’s lives! As the staff changed, I got to see new faces and interact with new people that made every day interesting. The longer I worked for TECTA, the less is became work, and the more it became like going to visit friends, and slowly, family.
The TECTA team moved from the Claxton to the Sexton, the CLC, and I thought I would have to change scholarship work assignments since it was a pretty long hike from my room. I was going to work for the music department, where it made sense for me to be as a future music educator, but I didn’t. I don’t know why, but something was pulling me back to TECTA. So I bought a bike and made the ride every day over to the new TECTA office, with my backpack full of mail. I don’t know if you believe in any supreme force over the universe, I do, and I believe that people come into your life for a reason. My mother always told me, usually when I was upset, “Jordan, people either come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I know that the lovely women at TECTA, Jennifer Jackson, Lisa Maddox, and Claudia Rodriguez, are in my life for a very special reason. They have over the past four years been like mothers to me, always accepting, understanding, and incredibly supportive. They are family. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t laugh with all of them, enjoy a conversation about whatever tickled our fancy that day, whether it was moral values, standardized testing, or even how to relax your entire body by relaxing the tongue. I am graduating next semester and have to end my official “work” with them, but they are the kind of people you can’t just tear yourself away from. They are the “lifetime” kind of people.
Through TECTA I have learned so many skills, from filing, building shelves, labeling, using computer programs in new ways, and managing records. I am grateful for their influence in my life, but they have shown me something else as early childhood educators that is incredibly important to my field, and to the field they teach. They have shown me that teachers, through everything they do, influence the world around them. They transform the world. By developing children in an appropriate way (something we like to call DAP), we unleash unlimited potential into this world. We light a flame that can burn brightly and make so much of a difference. By shaping children, we shape the world. As Mr. Rogers said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” News flash TECTA team, and all those who you touch through your teaching, you ARE the heroes. You are my heroes, and have shown me that I can be a hero to the people I teach through music. There is no greater gift I could ever receive than that, and I guarantee you the students you teach feel the same way. You don’t deal in money or material things; the currency of your profession is love. You give love, get love, and trade love, and no child will ever forget that. What better success story is there than that of learning to making a difference in another person’s life? I can think of none, and I have TECTA to thank for that.
My name is Ruth Royall. I am a 18 month to 30 month old teacher at Carousel Cottage. Presently, I am earning my Early Childhood Degree [Child Development Associate Degree (CDA)] through the TECTA program. This journey began in September of 2012, in which I took the orientation for Infants and Toddlers. The orientation was the determining factor in my decision making process. I have pondered on whether or not if I wanted to pursue a teaching degree, especially with the ages of 0 to 8 years. Throughout the years, I have worked at child care facilities, volunteered at a Head Start and also even had my own in home child care program. Even with all of that, I still was indecisive. The TECTA program was very informative, knowledgeable and willing to assist me with my goal. I am currently taking the first two classes into the preparation for my CDA. I must say its just like any other classes that any college student has ever taken. The professors are well informed. I feel that I will learn a lot and that I have made a great decision on going this route to follow my dreams.
My journey with TECTA began eleven years ago. I had always wanted to be an elementary school teacher and started college right out of high school. I was only in school for a little over a year when I got married. We could not afford for me to continue going to school so I dropped out and began working in a doctor’s office. I was not happy in what I was doing and decided I wanted to try working in child care. I loved it. I took a TECTA orientation in 2001 and shortly after moved out of state. When I came back to Tennessee I went to the same child care center that I had worked at in 2001. After a few years I decided it was time to see about getting my CDA. Needless to say I started the process in 2009 and I am now just a few classes away from having my Associates in Early Childhood Education. Like Mr. Rogers said in his quote, I am now at the beginning of something else. I have had the amazing opportunity to work this summer in the TECTA office and see firsthand how these wonderfully and caring women have helped so many achieve their goals. New doors are opening for me and I encourage all of you to continue on your path and remember you may be at the end of something but it is only “the beginning of something else”.
I started at NPUMC-CDC with my son when he was 2 1/2. It was September, 2011. I was looking for a daycare for him and went ahead and thought I would apply for a job so I could be near him due to bad experience in our hometown with his childcare. I had to take a basic training class to start working and I loved it. I did my 30 hour Orientation in 2002, about a year after I started at the center, while I was pregnant with my daughter. From there, I started working on my CDA with a co-worker which made it so much easier to do. It's a little scary getting back into school when your not fresh out of high school. But all my instructors and classmates were awesome. The other thing that made it easier was TECTA. If it weren't for the tuition assistance from TECTA I wouldn't have taken the classes. We had a 3 1/2 yr old and a newborn, and I was working at a childcare center. I loved my job but we all know I wasn't making much money.
Getting into the classes reminded me how much I wanted to work with kids and families. After my CDA, I continued on at Nashville State where I received my Associates Degree in December, 2010. Again, this would not have been done without the help of the TECTA tuition assistance. After receiving my degree from Nashville State I transferred into APSU with my minor in Early Childhood Education to work on my Bachelors Degree. During this time I got a chance to work with the wonderful ladies at the TECTA office that got me started on this track. I finished my last class August 10, 2012 and now have my Bachelors Degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Family Studies and a minor in Early Childhood Education. I pray I find a job where I can make a difference with children, there families and even childcare centers.
Thanks to TECTA I have finally finished something I started 17 years ago. It was a long road while working, being a wife and a mom. But having help and people that believe in you makes a huge difference!
Linda Wines & Carol Potters
I don’t want to go and you cannot make me, this class sucks and it is boring, the teacher is out to kill us, would it be a crime to hire body doubles? I have a headache, we can skip two classes and this will only be my third. It is raining outside, now look it is snowing and it might get ugly out there. But it is Wednesday, and it is two for one margarita night, I forgot to do my homework, did we have to type it, that was due this week. Why do they want us to do it, it is stupid and pointless, my kids feel bad and I have cramps. I think the teachers do not have a life, and want us to join them in boredom land.
All of these great excuses and reasons not to go to class seemed reasonable and applicable at the time, especially late at night when the bed was calling at the same time the exam clock was ticking. This was quite a wakeup call for Carol, who came from a world of happily ever after, not late nights of key board pecking. She had a supportive husband, a beautiful daughter, and a wonderful home that included many vacations, and few pets. Carol felt that something was still missing, which is when TECTA and a co-worker named Linda entered her life.
Linda was a mother of four, who was coming out of an abusive marriage that stripped her of her dignity and self-worth. She was working at her first job after many years of feeling insignificant, hoping to show her children how to survive and set goals. Linda thought a job was the way to show her children how to grow, but she still felt the need for more. This is when TECTA and Carol entered her life and set it upside down.
Carol and Linda came from two separate places in life and started the long journey to achieve their goal of getting a CDA. They had to learn how to type, use Microsoft Word, and how to balance family/work/school and their mental stability, without losing it. They became fast friends and relied on each other to give just the right push to keep moving. This allowed them to keep their sanity, and to have someone on their side who knew what they were going through. Times got hard, tears fell, emotions ran high, and laughs were vital to ease the stress. And this was only the first part of their long journey.
After several years of thinking they would never make it, Carol and Linda were able to sigh with relief, that all of their hard work was actually for something. They smiled and thought this is it we are finished, we are not going any further. A small ceremony was given in honor of the CDA recipients, and a terrifying interview and test was conducted by representatives. Linda and Carol said “We did it, we are done, and we are not doing it again” That is when Dr. Linda Sitton came in and said “Girls, wait there is more.”
Linda and Carol were once again enrolled in college going after the “more” when told a Technical was only three classes away… They were back to late night and crying, forcing the other one to do the homework, and asking “Why did we do this again?” It was a long three classes, but when it was finished Linda and Carol looked at each other and said “We did it, we are done and we are not doing it again.” This is when Dr. Linda Sitton once again said “Girls, wait there is more.” We cried…….
Later that semester Linda and Carol were back on campus purchasing textbooks, obtaining parking passes, and wondering how they got themselves back into this mess. The syllabus was crazy, the classes were tough, and the teachers were insane to think they wanted to do ALL of that work. When complaints were made they were told they were college students and must now behave like ones. Shoot when did this growing up on our own happen, where are the guiding hands, the instructions, the reminders, and where do you find tutors? Life as they knew it was over, now it was the real stuff “core classes.” There were more tears, threats to quitting, lots of screaming, and a lot more of moral support needed to keep it all together.
Carol’s marriage ended, her daughter moved away, and her world crumbled. She was going to just quit school, walk away and never look back. Linda had other ideas; she wanted Carol to keep going and to finish school so that all of her self-worth would not be gone. Linda would hound Carol every day and make her do her work, make her type that paper, and made her attend that class even in her pajamas. Together Linda and Carol trudged forward, moved that mountain and took one day at a time. In the mean time they tried avoiding Dr. Linda Sitton and the TECTA office.
Through it all, the hardships, feelings of neglect on our families, stress to the max, wanting to give up, being afraid to fail, and feeling like we had given everything we had to school and saved nothing for ourselves, it came to an end.
WE DID IT! WE finally did it! We had started out with only one goal in mind and had achieved three, CDA, Technical, and an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education in ten years. We stuck together, pushed one another, and we did not fall for each other’s tricks or tears. We were the Best Partners in Crime fighting all of the odds that were stacked against us and proved to ourselves we were worthy. “We did it, we are done, and we are not doing it again.” That is when Claudia Rodriguez said “Girls, wait there is more.”
God is great! My journey with TECTA has been just that; a journey or should I say a bouncy voyage. My voyage began in 1999 while I was working at a center in the infant/toddler room. The director asked me if I was interested in taking an orientation class through TECTA and I was like, ‘sure’. I signed up for the Fall 1999 Infant/Toddler Orientation and was so excited about my new adventure. While working at the center I was offered a position as three year old teacher. I accepted and changed my orientation to the preschool setting and the rest is history. I was not too sure what to expect but continued on with my classes to complete my CDA in 2002. I remember speaking at the reception and crying about completing my CDA. I was a statistic; single mom with two children while working and going to school but while completing my CDA I planned a wedding and married. I was on top of the world, so I thought. I was fulfilling my goals one step at a time and just happy. I continued on through NSCC working towards my Associates in Early Childhood Education with the help of TECTA once again. I never could have imagined what I was going to have to endure. Sleep deprivation, long nights of studying, a couple of computers, that drive to Nashville and that dreaded math class made me want to give up, but I continued with much prayer and tears. I took several online classes even though online classes scared me at first, but now I would not have it any other way. I was able to complete my AAS in ECE in May 2005. That was a bittersweet accomplishment, I once again through the help of God completed another goal but was also separated and filing for divorce. I was depressed and did not see my way out of this stink but God and TECTA had a different plan for me. I immediately started working on my Bachelor of Science the summer of 2005 at Austin Peay. I went through two or three major changes and a university change by fall 2010. I then transferred to Tennessee State University in the spring of 2010. Well, to make a long story short I have once again complete a goal and long time dream. I have completed my studies at Tennessee State University and will graduate December 15th with my BS in Family and Consumer Science with a minor in Family Relations and Child Development. I know God and much prayer helped me to accomplish my goals but I could NOT have done it without out the love and support of my family, friends, co-workers, my job and TECTA. I am so grateful for TECTA being a part of my life back then and now. The staff has been awesome and through the years I have had the honor of befriending some wonderful people. God is good!
Am I finished? Not at all, it is now time to start on my Masters; eventually but hopefully sooner than later. Remember you can do and complete anything you set your mind to regardless. God bless and thank you so much TECTA!