Child care providers adapt to challenges brought about by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on America’s child care industry. Since March 2020, many centers have closed temporarily due to health and safety concerns, increased costs to keep children and staff safe, and drastically reduced capacity.
When the Safer-at-Home order began in March, centers had to respond quickly. “Per state-mandated orders, in just one day, we needed to divide into three centers to maintain physical distancing, continue to serve our families and employ all team members,” explains Tina Tillman, owner and director at Apple Tree Connections in Appleton. “We also implemented even more sanitizing to ensure the safest possible environment.” Though it was challenging, she says, “Our team came together. We learned that we need to be ready for anything.”
Apple Tree currently employs 12 students and graduates of the FVTC Early Childhood Education program who, according to Tillman, “have been amazingly resilient. Flexibility is one of the most important skills needed now—and always—in this field.”
One of these students is Ana Avella-Calzada. “The change our center went through was mind-blowing,” explains Avella-Calzada. “But parents trusted us to keep their little ones safe. I’ve never felt more appreciated or trusted.”
In photo: Tina Tillman (left) and Ana Avella-Calzada
Student Spotlight: Ana Avella-Calzada
Early Childhood Education, graduating May 2021
Age 21, Menasha
When did you know you wanted to become a teacher?
I’m the oldest of five kids and helped raise my siblings, so from a young age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. In high school, I volunteered at a preschool. Realizing how much of an impact that teachers have on our lives made me want to pursue a career in education.
What do you love about what you do?
Working with kids doesn’t feel like work. I get to play, dance, sing, create art and learn every day. Watching kids learn and seeing those “aha” moments is so rewarding. It’s unbelievable how much more there is to teaching than simply teaching.
How did FVTC prepare you for your job?
Thanks to FVTC, I learned hands-on how to successfully run my classroom. The different approaches taken in my classes have helped me become more flexible and adjust to new or unexpected situations.