Investing in early childhood educators made it possible for teachers to achieve their dreams

(BPT) - Early childhood teachers and those who dedicate their careers to the first years of childhood - the time in life with the most brain development - have been lauded as essential, even heroes since the pandemic. Teachers are not just important in the eyes of children, but also for the families who depend on them to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children while they work.

Recognizing the ongoing need to care for teachers and caregivers, Bright Horizons, one of the world's largest providers of high-quality child care, continues to support these educators with vital benefits and resources to help them grow professionally. As part of its commitment to professionalizing the field of early childhood education, Bright Horizons is making a substantial investment to increase wages for both teachers and those in leadership within its child care centers.

In addition, Bright Horizons offers all of its teachers the opportunity to earn early education degrees absolutely free. The Horizons Teacher Degree Program is a first-of-its-kind program that allows all full-time employees in Bright Horizons' early education and child care centers to earn an associate and bachelor's degree in early childhood education at no cost to them, covering all out-of-pocket expenses, including tuition, fees and books.

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Carol White has been with Bright Horizons Childcare Center in Bellevue, Washington, for 23 years. She began as a KinderPrep Teacher, then Program Coordinator, Assistant Director and has served as the Center Director for the past eight years.

'I had wanted to get a degree since I graduated high school,' said White. 'Bright Horizons made it so easy. I didn't have to worry about coming up with the money to be paid back for my classes. I earned my degree through Rasmussen University and am using the same university for my BA. For me, getting my degree has been validating.'

Meanwhile, Diane Orr, a teacher at the Kadlec Childcare Center in Richmond, Washington, decided to participate because the program was free, online and offered multiple schools to choose from. 'It is amazing to work for a company that cares enough for their employees to invest in their education,' said Orr. 'My education has helped my confidence as a teacher and a leader. This past year I moved up to the position of lead educator at my center. I am proud of my accomplishments and hope that I can inspire others to keep going. My degree has helped me excel at my job and find new joy in my work.'

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Tina Dolson, the Health and Safety Director at Bright Horizons at University Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has always wanted to work with children. She has worked in the Infant and Toddler programs and as a mentor for new employees.

'I am the first in my family to get a bachelor's degree and was able to do so with the help of the degree program,' said Dolson.

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Mayra Pena has had a number of roles within early childhood education. She is currently a Bright Horizons Lead Educator for the kindergarten prep program at Early Discoveries in Abbott Park, Illinois. 'I decided to participate in the Horizons Teacher Degree program because I thought it was an excellent opportunity to finally complete a goal I had for many years,' said Pena. 'I know my parents would be incredibly proud. Their hard work and struggles have motivated me to keep moving toward my goal.'

Mayra is working toward her associate's degree in Early Childhood Education from Rasmussen University and plans to graduate in June 2023.

Learn more about the Horizons Teacher Degree Program at

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