Teacher Education and Compensation Helps

The T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) Early Childhood ® Scholarship Program is a licensed program of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association. It is a national, evidence-based strategy that creates access to higher education for teachers, directors and family child-care providers working with young children.  T.E.A.C.H. provides comprehensive scholarships to enable early educators to take coursework leading to credentials and degrees by making it possible for them to afford both the time and expense of going to school.  At the same time, T.E.A.C.H. will help leverage the financial resources necessary to provide capacity in higher education to help individuals attain their educational and career goals.  T.E.A.C.H. is a change agent for the early care and education (ECE) workforce. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® Arkansas Scholarship Program was developed to upgrade the level of education of teachers working with young children while making the educational process affordable, increasing wages and reducing turnover.  With funding from the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the program is now in Arkansas and has had remarkable success. Teachers and their sponsoring centers overwhelmingly support the program in their evaluations. Teachers typically complete 9-15 credit hours per year and remain in their sponsoring centers, thus reducing turnover.

Any teaching staff or director who would like to attend a college to enroll in coursework in Early Childhood Education and who is employed at least 20 hours/week in a licensed child care center or family home is eligible to apply for a scholarship.  Scholarships are awarded based on need and commitment to the Early Childhood Education field, as shown through information on the application and availability of funds. 

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® pays for part of your tuition and books, provides travel stipends each semester, reimburses the center for hours of release time given, provides bonuses for teachers who complete their contract and provides counseling and administrative support for the program.

Centers must agree to sponsor a scholarship teacher by contributing a portion of the cost of tuition and books, giving teachers paid release time each week (3-6 hours) and agreeing to award the teacher a bonus upon completion of the one-year scholarship contract.

To help with their cost of the degree, teachers may also look for additional sources of scholarships and grants, including Pell Grants.  If they are eligible, they may use those funds towards their portion of books/tuition and living expenses.  Teachers may also choose to obtain their CDA credential while working on their Associate degree.  All CDA coursework must be taken for college credit at an approved Arkansas college.

As scholarship recipients, teachers must attend classes and successfully complete 9-15 semester hours toward a certificate, credential or degree in early childhood education during the contract year.  Teachers are expected to contribute towards the cost of tuition and the cost of books each semester.  At the end of the scholarship year, teachers must promise to continue to teach at their sponsoring center for another year in return for a bonus.

Any licensed child care center, state pre-k program or licensed family child care home may sponsor a scholarship recipient. Profit, not-for-profit, faith-based public and Head Start programs have all sponsored scholarship teachers. Sponsors make a commitment to teacher education and compensation by meeting the terms of the scholarship contract.

Are you a director or administrator thinking about sending employees back to school with a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship? Watch this video!

What do our graduates say about T.E.A.C.H.?

I love being an Early Childhood teacher and I love my job. I am so thankful for the T.E.A.C.H scholarship and for their T.E.A.C.H team. I was so nervous about going back to college, but the T.E.A.C.H team was very patient and encouraging to me. They helped me with the financial support to finish my CDA and it also gave me the confidence to know that I could do it. I am also appreciative of my program sponsorship. My director Ariel Hunter is very encouraging, and she was the one the shared the T.E.A.C.H scholarship with me. I am hoping to go back and pursue my A.A.S soon.

My educational journey has greatly enhanced my classroom experience in many positive ways and T.E.A.C.H. played a significant role in this. I was able to spend adequate time doing my course work which better prepared me for working in a classroom thanks to the release time I used each month with my scholarship. Because I spent quality time on my projects, making sure they were durable safe, I was able to use these projects in my classroom, sharing them with the children in my care. Things such as my talk picture cards and teacher made books. In addition, T.E.A.C.H. graciously gave Lakeshore materials to scholarship recipients this past semester that I was able to use with my toddlers at my place of employment. Because of the education I have received I have a better understanding of all of these materials, making the most out of them for years to come. Learning what I have over the last year and 1/2 between night classes, late night studying, online quizzes and in person observations, has shown me that not only am I capable of working with small children on a day to day basis but that I thoroughly enjoy it. I want to go to work each day to see what developmental milestones the children in my care have reached and in what ways I can help them achieve those milestones.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Arkansas Status Of Fall Applications

As of Friday 5/17/24, we have 450 students approved for a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship this fall, including 62 new scholarships! In addition, we have another 39 applications that are still processing. While we are thrilled with these participation numbers, here at the T.E.A.C.H. office we are concerned about our capacity to effectively support more than 500 scholars right now. And it will be increasingly difficult for colleges to open enough seats for scholars to get the courses they need. This is certainly a good problem to have, but we believe some adjustments need to be made in the admissions process right now to make sure everyone receives quality support.

Beginning Monday 5/20/24, any new Fall 2024 applications will be placed on a temporary wait list. As we get closer to fall, we will have a more realistic picture of our total numbers since openings usually come up. Once we know, we will take the wait list and process those applications in the order they are received. This is not a funding issue – only a capacity issue. We anticipate having funding for new scholarships in January to serve any wait list, depending on our final numbers and graduations. For now, we will continue to accept new scholarship applications but can just not make any guarantees on approval for the fall semester.

If you are interested in a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood scholarship, go ahead and submit an application to get the best possible position on the wait list. An application must be complete to be placed on the wait list. This action does not affect anyone who is already receiving a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship and will be continuing with their current program this fall. Please reach out to me at teach@arkansasearlychildhood.org if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for your support of this program.

Applications, Brochures & Flyers

T.E.A.C.H. ECE Directory

Download our ECE Directory here

Paul Lazenby

Paul Lazenby

AECA Executive Director & T.E.A.C.H. State Manager

Paul earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas and studied Early Childhood Education at Arkansas State University. From 2003-2009, he served in various positions at the DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, including Arkansas Better Chance administrator and Assistant Division Director. During this time, the Division oversaw the expansion of the Arkansas Better Chance Pre-K program and the creation of the Better Beginnings Accreditation system. In 2009, he joined Arkansas State University Childhood Services as a project manager and trainer for directors and administrators of early childhood programs. Over the next seven years, Paul worked with programs applying for Better Beginnings to help them strengthen their administrative systems. Since 2016, he has served as Executive Director and Operations Manager with Western Arkansas Child Development, Inc. which operates five early education facilities in western and Northwest Arkansas. Paul has also served as Treasurer of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association.

“Having the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program in Arkansas is the most important milestone in our education history since the creation of the state-funded pre-K program. Educating and training Arkansas’ early childhood workforce is paramount to bring about the sustainable positive change we want to see in children’s lives. And it will bear out what we already know—quality early childhood programs bridge the achievement gap and generate value-added benefits to our state’s economy. I am both humbled and proud to be a part of this momentous next step in early education for Arkansas.”

You can contact Paul at paul@arkansasearlychildhood.org

Misty Butler

Misty Butler

Office Manager and Accountant for both AECA and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Arkansas

Misty earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration/Business Management from Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas.   Misty worked for the Johnson County, Kansas District Court Trustee’s Office for 12 years before moving to Arkansas in 2011. Misty worked for Western Arkansas Child Development, Inc for the past 7 years as the Human Resource Officer and Accountant.  She also served as the Treasurer for Cub Scout Pack 33.  She recently started employment with the Arkansas Department of Health.   She is married to John and has 5 children,  Tiffany, Michaela, Bree, Hannah and JC and three grandchildren, Caden, Audrey and Jericho.

You can contact Misty at misty@arkansasearlychildhood.org

Elizabeth Miller

Elizabeth Miller

T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Counselor Specialist

Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Early Childhood Education, and Sociology from Arkansas State University. She has spent the last 7 years working in the field of Early Childhood Education. Prior to this, she spent time working in banking where she developed her skills of communication and customer service. Of her years working in early childhood, five of them were spent working in Head Start. She started as an assistant teacher working her way to a lead teacher and then an education coach. This is where she found not only does she have a passion for educating and cultivating the minds of our young learners, but also the impact of helping other early childhood teachers to achieve best practices in their classrooms. She believes that early childhood educators are dealt with the extraordinary task of building the brains of our young learners and helping to set the foundation not only for the rest of their educational careers, but their life. She feels it an incredible honor to help teachers from across the state reach their educational goals through the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship.

Elizabeth is married to her husband, Josh, and they have 2 children. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family. Her and her husband are very involved in the various activities and sports that their children participate in. She also serves various roles on her local PTO and is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce.

As a former education coach, I know how important it is for our early childhood educators to receive the education needed to create high-quality environments for our early learners. T.E.A.C.H. is bringing opportunities to our early childhood staff across Arkansas, that some may never have had the chance to access otherwise. Not only does this benefit the educator in their professional career, but ultimately it is making ripples of immediate and lifelong positive impacts to the children of Arkansas. I am humbled to be a small piece of the process.

You can contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@arkansasearlychildhood.org

Karen Lowry

Karen Lowry

T.E.A.C.H. Administrative Assistant

Karen graduated high school in 1991. In 1999 she started a home based business, where she manufactured and sold hand crafted baskets and other home décor items. After 13 years she downsized her business and went to work at Kiddie Kollege (WACD) in Alma. She worked there for 6 years, starting off as a floater/sub and ended up working in the office, assisting the director and helping the corporate office with filing, data entry, etc. In 2018 she started working at the Arkansas Department of Health/Franklin County Health Unit as a Health Services Specialist.

Karen is married to her husband, Craig, and they have three children and two grandchildren. She continues to attend local craft shows and events with her home business.

“‘With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts’ – Eleanor Roosevelt”

You can contact Karen at karen@arkansasearlychildhood.org

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