Camp Fire Early Education Apprenticeship Program Celebrates 35 Graduates and Community Partnerships

Fort Worth, Texas (August 24, 2023) – Camp Fire First Texas hosted its 3rd Early Education Apprenticeship Program Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, August 19, where 35 early childhood educators walked the stage and collected their non-expiring United States Department of Labor (DOL) certificate and stipends from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Brian Miller, Interim President/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas served as master of ceremony and said, “I want to thank the individuals and funders who not only made it possible for this apprenticeship program to even exist and thrive but who passionately believe in this crucial initiative and its future. Last year, we had 20 graduates walk the stage, this year, we have 35 from across the state of Texas.”

These 35 apprentices working at 27 host site child care centers all completed 288 hours of study, and each earned up to 12 hours of college credit through this free program.

A congratulatory video from Alberto “Albert” Treviño, III, the Texas Workforce Commission’s Commissioner Representing Labor, honored the graduates from the first U.S. DOL registered apprenticeship program for early educators in the State of Texas.

The event also celebrated the community partnerships that make this program successful.

  • Tarrant County Administrative Office, Program Evaluation Specialist, Dr. Duchess Humphrey
  • The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, Program Officer, Ximena Antunez de Mayolo
  • The Holloway Family Foundation, Valerie Holloway Skinner, President
  • The R4 Foundation
  • The Sid Richardson Foundation
  • The Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Executive Director, Cody Summerfield, and The Fort Worth chapter president, Ontara Nickerson
  • T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) Early Childhood Texas Scholarship Program Program Director, Laurie Adams
  • Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas represented by Executive Director, Phedra Redifer and Child Care Manager, Tammy Davis
  • Texas Workforce Commission
  • Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County represented by Child Care Quality Unit Director, Nicole Allen
  • Tarrant County College represented by Vice Chancellor and Provost, Shelley Pearson; Northeast Campus President, Dr. Kenya Ayers-Palmore; Dean of Social and Human Sciences, Dr. Stephanie Scroggins; and Assistant Professor, Child Development Program Coordinator, Lisa Self
  • Tarleton State University represented by Associate Professor, Dr. Kristina Higgins
  • Early Learning Alliance represented by Director, Bethany Edwards
  • North Central Texas Council of Governments represented by Early Childhood Program Supervisor, Shenee Bagsby
  • Child Care Associates represented by Director of Quality Child Care, Grace Peninger, and Quality Assistant Manager, Michael Coronado
  • Fort Worth ISD represented by Executive Director of Early Learning, Olayinka Ojo
  • United Way of Tarrant County

Commencement Speaker Associate Professor, Tarleton State University, Dr. Kristina Higgins said, “As a representative of Tarleton State University, I have collaborated with the Camp Fire Early Education Apprenticeship Program since the beginning. As we were developing our Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science degree, we had people like you in mind. Those who are already working in the field, those who already bring joy to children’s lives, and those who want to learn more. I worked with Camp Fire, Tarrant County College, and other members of the Early Learning Alliance with the goal of building many different pathways for early childhood teachers and directors to have opportunities to elevate their own education in this field.”

The Camp Fire Early Education Apprenticeship Program (EEAP) is a FREE educational and career pathway building strategy. The EEAP includes paid on-the-job-learning, coupled with educational courses and one-to-one coaching in the classroom from a Camp Fire mentor. Other features include wage increases, stipends that recognize milestones, and earning a non-expiring certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The number of early educator apprentices in the incoming class has increased to 90, and there are now 34 host-site child care centers enrolled. Additionally, Associate and Bachelor’s Degree tracks have been added to the program.

Camp Fire Director of Early Educator Success Yolanda Willis explains, “The expansion of EEAP gives us the opportunity to offer a diverse range of occupations and reach new educators. EEAP offering the Associate and Bachelor’s Degree Tracks allows Camp Fire First Texas to attract more educators and provide the next level of high-quality teachers to existing childcare centers.”

Congratulations to the 2023 EEAP Graduates

Destiny Duecker Alvarado, Patricia Barr, Gabriela Baylon, Leila Benbarka, Jackie Brow, Minelba Burgos, Shalonda Bush, Rosario Calamaco, Roslyn Chaney,
Katheryn Daugherty, Ana Torres Esparza, Janelle Gallegos, Vanessa Gallegos, Katrina Carter-Harris, Ashley Howell, Allison Jackson, Kia Jones, Venkata Katta,
Makaela Kepley, Diretha Manning, Marisa Marino, Shurhonda Mays, Sushma Nair, Alexandra Ponce, Rachel Roberts, Jennifer Schneider, Michelle Taylor, Jasmin Umanzor, Mykka Vara, Tammy Welch, Cheryl Williams, Connie Wilson, Kimberly Woods, Patricia Wright

To view more photos from the 2023 Early Education Apprenticeship Program Graduation Ceremony, CLICK HERE.


About Camp Fire First Texas

Camp Fire First Texas invests in North Texas communities by providing out-of-school time and outdoor learning programs for children and youth while also offering workforce development programs for the educators who care for them.

Our programs stand out as they are uniquely focused on the two periods of greatest brain growth and development: early childhood and early adolescence; leverage the impact of the outdoor environment on the brain to educate and connect children to each other and the world around them; and maintain a continuous improvement loop to maximize community impact.

We envision a community in which every child has equitable access to quality learning opportunities that cultivate the skills they need to succeed and thrive in a rapidly changing world.