Earlier this summer, 11 future childcare givers walked into the classroom – with diverse cultures, diverse life experiences – all extremely eager to learn and connected with the dream of serving children and families.

On a warm summer day in mid-August, Lincoln Littles hosted a graduation ceremony for those 11 members of the inaugural Childcare Teacher Foundations Class, presenting them with special certificates for entry-level early childcare training.

“I wish to create memories, fun memories that will stay in the child’s mind for his or her future,” said Jennifer Sanchez, one of those graduates, describing her goals. “I wish to create a peaceful environment that is also vibrant in the classroom, where children can feel comfortable like they are in their second home. I wish to create a better future for children, to give love and also get love … and enjoy the most beautiful profession in the world.”

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird congratulated the class, saying the entire community was proud to celebrate. “As you set out on careers in childcare education, we recognize you help our children realize their full potential – while you help our community realize ours.”

The development of our littlest community members is so important, Gaylor Baird continued. “I am looking forward to the positive impact you are going to make on our community and to our little ones.”

Lameakia Collier, the Wellness Workforce Navigator for Lincoln Littles and facilitator of the training, said she was honored to “have the privilege of watching these individuals grow as childcare professionals.  It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

She explained that each graduate had created their own personal philosophy and mission statement, which many shared at the graduation ceremony.

  • Yasmin Alonso Orozco: “To go far beyond teaching, inspiring children to learn more. Once you see those smiling faces, it is beyond words. It does take a whole village to raise a child.”
  • Elizabeth Garcia: “My wish is to provide a safe environment when children are in my care, to help them learn and grow, to make children feel they are at home, to help children and families know that I am someone they can trust, to give my best to children in my classroom.”
  • Carmen Karina Munoz: “I want the children in my care to know they are loved and to ensure that when they go home, they are happy.”
  • Melanie Vega: “I want to create a safe and secure environment for all children, to provide limitless opportunities, to develop curious minds.”

Lincoln Littles hosted the training course – focused on those interested in working in the early childcare field – thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Department of Labor. As a bonus incentive, those who completed the 21 credit hour course and attained a job in early childcare were awarded $5,000 to help subsidize their own childcare costs over the following year.

“Tonight, we celebrate you,” Anne Brandt, executive director of Lincoln Littles, told the graduates, noting that the training course supports the mission of Lincoln Littles: To ensure all children have access to high quality childcare.

Alec Gorynski, president/CEO of the Lincoln Community Foundation, extended words of gratitude on behalf of graduates and their families, the children they will care for and the entire community. “I thank you, with the understanding that you are the workforce that supports our workforce.”

Michelle Suarez, a community advocate and one of the founders of Lincoln Littles also spoke at the event. “As childcare teachers this graduation ceremony is well-earned and well-deserved. You are our teachers, the continual reminder of how important quality childcare is. We honor you. We applaud you.”

Eric Buchanan, director of the Strategic Partnerships at Buffet Early Childhood Fund said, “This is incredibly inspiring, to see these graduates and their families, to know that investment in care giving is an investment in the entire community.”

Lincoln Littles is offering a second round of early childcare employee training this fall for new early childcare employees.  Sessions are held on Monday and Wednesday nights from October 9 through November 15.

The 6-week program provides a unique opportunity for those with little or no prior experience in the childcare industry to receive training to prepare you to confidently step into childcare career opportunities.

Applications for the fall class are due September 15. Learn more and register here.