Wonders’ Success Starts with our Staff
“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson
For over 40 years Wonders has strived to be an organization led by its mission “To create and advance high quality, diverse educational communities that teach children the foundations of life-long learning and social responsibility.” The key to teaching the foundations of life-long learning and social responsibility starts with our highly qualified teachers and staff. But what defines “qualified teachers”?
For both of our NAEYC accredited early learning programs, teachers are qualified when “all teachers have a minimum of an associate’s degree or equivalent. At least 75% of teachers have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent in early childhood education, child development, elementary education, or early childhood special education, and this training encompasses child development and learning of children birth through kindergarten; family and community relationships; observing, documenting, and assessing young children; teaching and learning; and professional practices and development.” (source)
In our extended day programs the Maryland EXCELS system states that School Age Teacher(s), who are responsible for the care and education of a group of children and youth, must have at least an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education/Child Development or related field and must hold a Maryland Child Care Credential of level five.
Wonders firmly believes that to inspire the children to learn and grow, teachers must also continue to learn and grow. We take special care in our hiring practices to ensure excellent teaching skills and a professional work culture. We are proud of the dedication, diversity and creativity our staff brings to the classrooms and programs.
In education, research has shown that teaching quality and school leadership are the most important factors in raising student achievement. For teachers to be as effective as possible, they need to continually expand their knowledge and skills to implement the best educational practices. Educators learn to help students learn at the highest levels, which is why Wonders closes programs three times a year to provide Staff Development Days to continue providing our staff with the tools and skills needed.
And because of our commitment to work force development, Wonders programs are staffed by experienced, qualified, caring, professional teachers who are compensated in the top quartile for the field. Wonders has an annual staff turnover that is less than a third of the Maryland average; we believe this is due to our ability to attract and retain dedicated, professional teachers who make our classrooms and programs exciting learning environments. As a non-profit, we reinvest all financial surpluses back into Wonders and we focus heavily on teacher training and professional development. As NAEYC’s Workforce Designs report states, “Many studies point to the knowledge and skills of early learning program staff as the cornerstone of high quality early learning education programs. Specialized knowledge and professional development in how young children develop and learn is critical, as is the quality of interactions between program staff and children (Shonkoff & Phillips 2000).” We believe our investment in Wonders teachers has a direct benefit to the children and families in our program.