Driven to Teach and Succeed
In Milwaukee County, nearly 19,000 families with children under the age of five live in poverty – that’s two in every five families. Decades of research demonstrate that those first five years are crucial to the trajectory of a child’s life.
Since opening in 2005, Educare Milwaukee has worked to eliminate the opportunity gap. As a member of the Educare Learning Network (ELN) – a nationwide Network of early learning schools – they do this by providing high-quality early education to ensure Milwaukee children living in poverty are ready to succeed in school. Through Red Nose Day’s funding to Ounce of Prevention Fund, Educare Milwaukee is able to reach more children than ever.
Helping make that happen year after year are hardworking, dedicated teachers, like ShaLaya Morehouse. ShaLaya first connected with Educare Milwaukee as a parent when she was seeking a more enriching learning environment for her daughter, Amirah. Educare was such a good fit for her family that two months after enrolling her daughter, ShaLaya joined the staff as a Teaching Assistant.
“Once I was hired here, I was like, I want to do more. I want more education. I want to be a better teacher,” said ShaLaya. “I want to be able to give my students the same services that the teachers are giving to my child.”
ShaLaya’s goal was to become a teacher at Educare Milwaukee to provide a better life for her family through education and a higher salary. In 2016, she met that goal by earning her bachelor’s degree. She also took advantage of Educare’s professional development opportunities and twice attended the national ELN meeting, participating in parent-staff networking events. Thanks to the Red Nose Day Fund Grant, Educare Milwaukee is able to have more teachers attend this year as well as train teachers in curriculum delivery and classroom data analysis to individualize teaching for students.
“[At the meeting] the support staff at the Educare schools were able to learn from the parents and the parents were able to learn from them so that we could connect and make Educare a better place for everybody,” ShaLaya said.
A 2017 national study showed the tangible impact of teachers like ShaLaya: after just one year of enrollment, Educare students demonstrated stronger language skills, exhibited less challenging behaviors, and developed more positive parent-child interactions than children who did not attend Educare.
ShaLaya says she’s found her calling. Today, her 4-year-old daughter is thriving in her local elementary school, and ShaLaya could not be more proud of Amirah – or herself.
“I feel very confident. I love serving families. I love seeing my children grow and giving them tools that they need. I feel like I’m doing some of the best work,” ShaLaya said.