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Thoughts from the Director

October 2015
Gardening with Young Children

I recently came across this fantastic article by Christine Beaudry, demonstrating the life lessons learned from gardening with young children: 

Ready, Set, Grow: The Benefits to Gardening with Kids.

Along with the fun of getting dirty, gardening helps children learn valuable lessons about patience as they wait for vegetables to grow, responsibility as they see how necessary their care is to the garden, and even loss when flowers die at the end of a season. “They learn about nurturing a life and what it takes to keep something alive,” says Amy Gifford, an education associate for the National Gardening Association. Gifford extols the value of exercise as children physically work in the garden, that families learn to work together and share, and that gardening helps build a child’s senses.

“One of the most important things about [vegetable] gardening is understanding where food comes from,” says Gifford. She says young children are fascinated in seeing food when it’s pulled from the ground, and they notice the similarities and differences from their garden vegetables and produce from the grocery store.

Looking for the wildlife in a garden is a great part of the fun for little ones. “Kids love insects and worms,” says Taylor. “Gardening introduces them to some of the living creatures in the soil, under rocks and on plants. It’s all a part of opening the world up to them.” At Seattle Tilth, Taylor lets the kids build bug houses. “We let them be creative. They build beds for the bugs, hot tubs, waterslides—things they think the bugs would enjoy.” Children are natural nurtures, she says, and understand the importance of caring for plants and other things in the garden.

For the full article, make sure to go to:

 2016 Youth Garden Grant

Stores around town are already busy decorating for fall and even Christmas and we are quickly reminded that the New Year is approaching fast! With a new year comes a new opportunity to apply for a Youth Garden Grant that you do not want to miss out! A total of 20 programs will receive award packages valued over $500.00 that include a tool package, seed sheet, gift certificates for plants, raised garden bed and so much more!

For grant eligibility and grant application, please visit

Good luck,
Claudia Rodriguez

September 2015
Tennessee Star Quality Advisory Council

We are sharing a letter from Dr. Katari Coleman, Child Care Services Director, regarding nominations for the Tennessee Star Quality Advisory Council.  A link to the letter and nomination form can be found here.

August 2015
Brenda Jerles' Scholarship

Two Rivers Association for the Education of Young Children has a passion for young children and the people who work with those children. On April 3, 2015, we lost one of our own to cancer, but not what she stood for. Brenda Jerles had a career spanning 42 years helping students achieve their goals.  Her husband, Joe, has said, “she was known to many as the Beautiful, Young, Fairy Princess, Godmother, and Kindergarten teacher named Mrs. Jerles."  She will also be remembered as a wonderful, passionate, and dedicated teacher at Nashville State Community College (Clarksville Campus).

Two Rivers Association for the Education of Young Children has established a scholarship in Brenda Jerles’ name.  The first recipients of this scholarship include: Samantha Barclay, Patricia Bradford, Bettye Buchanan, Rosa Barboza-Clark, Kayla Foster, Tiffany Gabriel, Maria Emilia Ortiz, Salina Elizabeth Oneslager, Amy Olsen, Brittany Chantell Swift, Patricia Pearl Ussery, and LaKendra Williams.  We wish each recipient the best in your academic endeavors. 

For more information regarding donations to the scholarship fund or application for the scholarship, see below.

 Applicant Qualifications

  • TECTA at APSU supported students attending NSCC seeking a CDA Credential, Technical Certificate or AAS degree in Early Childhood Education.


  • $50.00 annually (January 1st – December 31st) per student
  • Payable to NSCC on behalf to the recipient
  • Annual funds are available until exhausted

Application Procedure

  • Apply online by clicking here

Application Deadlines

  • Students wishing to take courses in the spring semester must have their scholarship application submitted by December 1st of the preceding year.
  • Students wishing to take courses in the fall semester must have their scholarship application submitted by July 1st of the same year.


Donations to the Brenda Jerles' Scholarship Fund may be sent to TRAEYC, PO Box 159, Clarksville, TN, 37041

July 2015
A New TECTA Year:  Are You Ready to Make Some Goals?

Melody Beattie once said, “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a new book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals”.

Let TECTA at APSU help you write the next chapter in your book; let’s set some goals. Setting goals for yourself is a way to fuel your ambition. Goal setting isn’t just about creating a plan for your personal or professional life but it is also about giving us the inspiration necessary to aim for things we never thought possible.  Are you ready to be fueled in the early childhood profession?

2015-2016 Goal: Earn a Child Development Associate Credential- CDA

A CDA is a Credential that recognizes an individual’s knowledge of child development and skills when working with young children. The Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC, awards this credential to individuals who have completed all required training and other requirements. TECTA provides mentoring throughout the entire process. CDA’s are able to meet the needs of children, work with parents and other adults to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth in a child development framework.

Step 1: Enroll in a FREE 30 hour orientation at

Step 2: Complete the Orientation and become eligible for TECTA tuition support.

Are you ready to write the next chapter in your book? What are you waiting for?

For more information, call Claudia Rodriguez at 931-221-7300 or email

May 2015
Day Of Play: Creating History

The first annual Day of Play was held in Clarksville, April 12, 2015, and was a huge success! Close to 550 families turned out at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center to enjoy an afternoon filled of fun hands-on activities in seven play zones, story characters, face painting, stage shows, Zumba for kids and so much more.

Play is the work of children. As parents and educators, our job is to let them do their work. The Day of Play was the perfect venue to have this message be heard throughout our community.

Play zones included areas for Creative Play, Adventure Play, Construction Play, Story Play, Make Believe Play, Physical Play and Musical Play. The play zones provided opportunities to explore and discover, imagine and pretend, create and design and wiggle and move.

Here is what families had to say about the first annual Day of Play:

Jennis Biser: My kids (3 & 5) had a fantastic time! My son 5, "I don't want this day to end!" Their favorite part was the craft section. I've never seen anyone so excited about googly eyes and craft sticks, LOL! We stopped at Wal-Mart for supplies to fill the "idea box" and the kids haven't stopped gluing things for 2 days. They also started a box to collect "construction" supplies and no pots or pans are safe from the wooden spoon drummer girl.

Maggie Chronister: My kids had such a good time, this was an amazing event! The volunteers were all super fun and kind. What a wonderful day!

Zsavier Thiruvengadam: This is the best free event for kids I've ever taken my kid. Great job! Can't wait for the next one.

Joe Jerles: One of the best things to happen for the families of Clarksville in a very long time. I am truly humbled by the effort and coordination that it took to mount this activity. I predict the place will be packed next year when others tell about the great time they had! Other sponsors need to get behind this!

The event was organized with the help of Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) at Austin Peay State University, Mid Cumberland Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R), Two Rivers Association of the Education of Young Children (TRAEYC) and Early Connections Network (ECN).

Here some interesting quick facts:

  • Total Day of Play attendance reached its peak at 1,800 participants!
  • More than 168 volunteers assisted with the event totaling 744.25 hours of help!
  • 22 licensed child care programs and other educational programs participated with the event!
  • 13 Family Resource Agencies shared resources with families!
  • ECN donated $10,000.00 for the Day of Play- Platinum Level Sponsor!
  • 11 other generous sponsors shared in raising another $5,600.00!

 What’s next you might ask?

The Day of Play has created history for the Clarksville community and left great memories for many families, volunteers, sponsors and organizers. The Day of Play will be an annual event and we are looking forward to doing it again next year!

Mark your calendars for the next Day of Play: Sunday, April 10, 2016

For great pictures of the Day of Play, please go to:

February 2015
Brenda Jerles' Fun Memory Jar

“When life deals you lemons, make lemonade” is a quote that comes to my mind as I think of Brenda Jerles. Brenda has recently retired from teaching Early Childhood Education courses at Nashville State Community College due to severe health issues. She has created everlasting memories and friendships with her colleagues and students.  One of her well known mottos is always to “do your best” no matter how hard it is. She is a motivator, fighter, encourager, supporter and advocate for Early Childhood Education. She values and advocates for high quality care in early childhood and stresses the importance of education for child care providers. She is a true hero for many of us, a kind and strong woman that continues to make “lemonade”.

Please join us in creating a Fun Memory Jar for Brenda Jerles. Often the big memories are never forgotten, but it’s the little joys, the teensy things that tend to get forgotten. We invite you to share YOUR memories, thoughts and prayers with Brenda. Time always seems to go so fast, so why not try to capture some of those special moments that you may have had with Brenda. Share the love.

Fun Memory Jar: For your convenience, we have special note cards at the TECTA office. Feel free to stop by and write a special note to our lovely Brenda Jerles. If you cannot stop by to pick up the note cards, simply email your message to and we will make sure to insert your special note in one of the envelopes.  Please have all messages delivered by Friday, February 27, 2015. Once all the not cards have been collected, we will place them in the Memory Jar and arrange delivery.

November 2014
Lisa Maddox-Vinson, TAEYC's 2014 Outstanding Member

“And your 2014 Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children OUTSTANDING Member is LISA MADDOX-VINSON!”  It was my honor to be able to announce TAEYC’s Outstanding Member this year in Chattanooga at the annual conference.  Lisa has served children and families in Tennessee in many ways.  She has taught us the importance of being a life-long learner.  She lives every moment to the fullest and has devoted her career to improving children’s lives.  She is currently serving as Co-President of Two Rivers AEYC, which she co-founded.  She is passionate about promoting literacy for young children and she LOVES BOOKS!  She’s a grandmother (Mimi) to three beautiful grandchildren and she lives in a holler in Dover, TN.   She is serving her second term as Tennessee’s Representative for the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA) and she is truly Tennessee’s cheerleader! Tennessee is fortunate to have Lisa working for all our children and families. - Debbie Ferguson, TAEYC Executive Board Member

Claudia & Jennifer are so very proud of our Lisa!  When you see her, congratulate her on this most deserving award!

August 2014
Parent Communication: Using Bulletin Boards Effectively

A parent board is a great tool to keep families informed but parents can become overwhelmed with too much “written communication”.  Here some great tips to use a parent bulletin board effectively, give it a try!

1)      A visually appealing information center conveys to parents that this is an area of importance. Why should they bother looking at old announcements and old newsletters? Keep information current and decorate with a bright border and clean, simple back ground with an inviting appeal.

2)      Include community events on your bulletin board. Parents appreciate knowing that the public library may offer a special story time or the Dunbar Cave may offer a free educational program for young children.

3)      Make bulletin boards fun! Every week or so, pin up a coupon for a free coffee or attach an actual candy bar along with a sign saying something like, “If you read a book or magazine last night for pleasure, then this gift if yours.” The first parent who “qualifies” can take the item.

4)      If a child says something particularly funny, post it on the bulletin board. Add this caption:” Whose child said this?” After a few days, add the child’s name.

5)      Include a “Tip of the week” on the bulletin board. Tips can range from an idea on discipline to the name of a great restaurant in town that welcomes children. Invite parents to get involved and start adding their own tips.

6)      Include an area on the bulletin board where parents can list items to sell. This is a great place for them to market outgrown strollers or car seats.

7)      Occasionally, post a question on the bulletin board and let parents write down their answers. Try questions such as “Where is the best place in town to feed the birds?” or “What are the best short hikes in the area suitable to young children?”

Bulletin boards can be effective but must be attractive to the eye, contain current information and designed for the parent. Design your parent bulletin board with one thing in mind:” What is in it for the parent?”

(Tips taken from Terrific Tips for Directors by Silvana Clark, 1998)

March 2014
The Best Things in Life are Free!

Running a child care program is a very unique business in which we see many early childhood professionals become very creative in finding FREE resources. No money? No problem. After all they do say “the best things in life are free, right? How about a FREE hug from your kids? What about a FREE smile that simply makes your heart melt? How about the FREE words everyone longs to hear: “I love you”. Yes, the best things in life are in fact FREE.

While the children provide us with many memorable FREE things throughout the day, early childhood professionals become creative and resourceful to find FREE art supplies within their communities.

Here a few ideas taken from “Terrific Tips for Directors” by Silvana Clark. Give them a try!

FREE Colorful Envelopes: The day after a holiday, go to any store seeking greeting cards. Most of the major card manufacturers want unsold holiday cards shipped back to headquarters, but they don’t want the envelopes. This means hundreds of new envelopes are thrown out. Check with a store clerk in charge of the card department and ask for the envelopes.

FREE High School Prom Decorations: Find out when local high schools are having dances and proms. The students decorate with streamers, signs, and purchased displays to go with their theme. They usually throw everything out after the event, but could be persuaded to save things for you. If you are really dedicated, offer to help clean up to ensure you get the decorations.

FREE Paper: Newspaper offices often have leftover ends of plain newsprint rolls for free or at a nominal cost. Most rolls are 20 to 25 feet long and wide enough for large murals, body tracing, or making giant picture books.

FREE Small Wood Scraps: Many cabinet makers and furniture builders have small wood scraps in various shapes and sizes. The small pieces are perfect for wood sculptures. Jackpot for 3-D art!

FREE Wallpaper Samples: Home decorating stores offer free, outdated wallpaper sample books. The large papers are ideal for book covers, card making, practice cutting, and toddler scribbling.

FREE Fabric: Upholstery shops or custom fabric stores have out-of-date fabric samples they will give away. Use them for collages, texture books, doll clothes, or other projects.

One of the golden rules in child care is: “ASK in order to RECEIVE- FREE! So, what are you waiting for?

January 2014
Tips to Avoid the Top 5 Child Care Business Mistakes

Here is a recent blog I came across taken from . This website looked at the most common mistakes observed when running a childcare program.  I hope you find the information valuable and learn before you make the mistakes.

When you run any type of business, you are bound to make a few mistakes. The important thing to do when you make errors is to learn from them so you won’t repeat them. Although some errors are inevitable in business, here are five common childcare industry mistakes you can easily avoid:

1)     Not having a written contract in place.

Having a written contract in place protects your business and gives clients a blueprint of what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. Putting all of your policies and procedures in writing minimizes conflict and confusion, makes it easier to enforce rules, and improves your chances of recovering past due childcare fees from clients.

2)     Not setting proper childcare rates.

Setting childcare fees can be tricky. You want to charge enough to comfortably cover your business expenses, and make a profit. However,

you don’t want to scare potential clients away with unreasonable high prices. Here’s a good rule to follow when setting rates: Call childcare programs in your area to see what they are charging, and set your rates somewhere along those lines.

3)     Not following licensing guidelines.

Licensing rules are designed to improve the care and safety of children. When you don’t follow licensing guidelines, it not only jeopardizes kid’s safety, it puts you at risk for losing your childcare license, and getting into legal trouble.

4)     Not marketing regularly.

What good is having a business if customers don’t know you exist? It doesn’t matter if you run a small home childcare, or a large childcare program, marketing is what drives clients to your door. It’s smart to sue a variety of marketing strategies to keep a steady flow of children in your childcare facility.

November, 2013
Giving Back to the Community "A Call to Action"

The holiday season is fast approaching, providing the early childhood community with an opportunity to teach young children the importance of giving back. Teaching and modeling the concept of giving back can have many positive outcomes for a child. By simply assisting young children doing good deeds, they develop social concepts such as empathy, love, compassion and responsibility. Developing these positive social concepts is vital in the growth of a well-rounded child. A quote by Winston Churchill describes it best: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Childcare programs can create many unique ways to involve young children in making a difference in the community. Small hands CAN make a huge impact! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Donate your old eyeglasses! and both accept used eyewear and donate them to people in need throughout the world.
  • Collect items for pets for your local humane society. They are always in need of newspapers, cat litter, cleaning supplies, dog and cat food. 
  • Create a giving box, inviting children and families to donate coins and donate to a local charity.
  • Have your children gather up any gently used toys they have outgrown or do not play with anymore and donate to a shelter.


For the month of November & December, the APSU TECTA office is focusing on giving back to the community. We invite all TECTA supported students and other early childhood professionals and advocates to join us in collecting nonperishable food items for the APSU student food pantry. The nonperishable food items may be dropped off at the TECTA office, or at the Nashville State Community College Clarksville Satellite Campus. Our goal is to collect 500 nonperishable items and we need your help. Let the spirit of giving begin and let us model behavior we want children to adopt!  


September, 2013
Terrific Tips For Directors - Marketing Your Center

Peter Drucker quoted, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Do you pay attention to your customers of families and children? Networking skills, making your center stand out, telephone tips, effective brochures, and projecting the right image are just a few examples how to market your program. Marketing your program is critical in promoting your business.

Networking is simply a fancy word for meeting people to share information and resources. Let your community know you run a high qualify professional early childhood program whenever you have an opportunity. Even though your schedule is busy, try to find time to join a community organization unrelated to the child care industry. This will broaden your perspective and expose you to people with various interests and needs.

Make your center stand out. What sets your program apart from all the others in your community? Do you offer longer hours, NAEYC or NAFCC accredited, three stars recognized, highly qualified child care providers holding a CDA or Technical Early Childhood Certificate, annual family BBQ or maybe even a beautiful natural play ground?

Practice telephone etiquette. Place a list of commonly asked questions- with answers- by each telephone. Whoever answers the phone can then answer questions about tuition, availability for openings, registration fee, hours of operation and directions to your facility. Professional telemarketers often place a mirror by the phone, along with a sign saying “Smile!” When you smile, your voice sounds friendly and upbeat.

High quality, effective brochures are important. A photocopied piece of paper with amateur artwork on the front cannot compete with a well-designed, professionally printed brochure. The extra cost of a quality brochure is offset by the higher enrollment you’ll achieve. Make sure to use a consistent logo.

Make children and families feel welcome. What is the first impression a person may have of your facility? Is the front area covered with smudges and fillled with unpleasant odors, or does it look warm and homey? A colorful container of flowers by the entrance shows you care about appearances. Fall is just around the corner, and beautiful mums will be perfect for any entrance area.

(Information taken from Terrific Tips for Directors by Silvana Clark, 1998)