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March 2021

AQuia Bratcher

Pre-K 3 Educator

KIPP DC Public Charter School

Who are you?

I am AQuia L. Bratcher, a single mother of three black kings, a full-time pre-k 3 professional educator, and a business owner of a non-profit focused on community service. I am also a business owner of an LLC focused on event décor, planning, baking and catering, as well as, a full-time education major at the University of the District of Columbia.


What is the nature of your job?

I teach pre-k 3 with KIPP DC Public Charter School and have been in the classroom for three years. 


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

Education has always been my passion, as I have been in the educational career field since 2016, where kids are my joy and assisting in educating them is my duty. I am a strong believer in it taking a village to raise a child, and I am certain to do my due diligence in order to touch as many children and families, as possible. 


Wishes for the future of children…

The late, great Whitney Houston stated that children are the future, and if we teach them well, they can lead the way. She was true to state that children have much beauty, and we, as  educators, yet alone, members of the community have a duty to equip our children with the confidence, strength and tools they need in order to thrive and live to their fullest potential. I have dedicated my life to being a life-long learner, and it is through this dedication that I will be able to sharpen my craft to best benefit the children that I serve. 


What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not in the classroom you can find me crafting, planning and decorating events, customizing items, baking, catering, hosting make-shift karaoke nights with my babies, trying to dance, or watching my best friends The Golden Girls on television.

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February 2021

Erin Iesha Roxborough

Owner and Home Based Early Educator

Ms. Rox's Child Care

Who Are You?

Erin Iesha Roxborough.


What is the nature of your job?

I’m a licensed child care provider and a proud previous DCPS teacher. I've so enjoyed teaching in the DMV. I’ve taught for 20 years in a few DC charter and public schools. I’ve worked as a Dean of Students at Anacostia HS as well. I’ve also taught for a short while at a private school in Baltimore.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

My mom is a retired 40 year neonatal nurse from Children’s Hospital and she told me one day that she wanted to work with babies again. She said, “Why don’t you open that child care you’ve been talking about for years, sweetie?  You’re already an educator, I’ll help you with the babies!” 

As I’ve always listened to my mama, I decided to take a hiatus and move ahead with the licensing process through OSSE with her blessing. Here we are 2 years later. 


Wishes for the future of children?

It is so critical that we love and teach our young people. With the inception of this pandemic it is so important that we, as adults, practice self care, but that we not forget about “our children.” They suffer the most!!! They feed off of our energy. It has always been my passion to work with young people. Apparently, they’re just getting younger and younger by the jobs!!! (I’m kidding)


What do you do when you’re not working?

I love spending quality time with my mama and my twin teenage daughters, Alanna and Arianna Winfield,  as well as my “grand kitties”... our two cats, Sunny and Stormi.


January 2021

Buen Abo

Education Program Specialist

Office of the State Superintendent of Education,

Division of Early Learning

Who Are You?

I am a father of three boys. I completed my post graduate degree in Supervision and Administration in Early Childhood Education. I am currently working on my PhD in Education. My previous professional work and experience revolved around creating a safe, healthy learning environment among children. In 2011, I became a Child Development Associate (CDA) instructor. Previously I served as a director of a child care program in the District. Now I serve as an education program specialist at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Division of Early Learning (DEL).


What is the nature of your job?

OSSE is the state education agency for the District of Columbia charged with raising the quality of education for all DC residents. I support the agency’s initiatives and help oversee the implementation of Capital Quality, the District’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS).


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

Early care and education is more than just preparation for primary school. It is about developing and supporting the whole child though building a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and well-being. There is a huge opportunity to nurture young children into caring, capable and responsible future citizens.


Wishes for the future of children?

My wish for all children regardless of their background is that they receive high-quality preparation to succeed in school and in life.


What do you do when you’re not working?

Outside of work, I enjoy hiking; playing volleyball, table tennis, and badminton; and spending time with family.

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December 2020

Shayna Cook

Senior Manager of Early Learning Systems

Bainum Family Foundation

Who are you? 

My name is Shayna Cook. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I have lived in the District of Columbia for about 15 years. I started my career teaching pre-K, Head Start, and third grade.   


What is the nature of your job? 

In my current role as the Senior Manager of Early Learning Systems at the Bainum Family Foundation, I have the opportunity to direct funding and resources to support children, families, and educators in the early childhood education field. To this end, I work in close partnership with the District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

In high school, I volunteered at a Head Start program in East Cleveland. My passion for early childhood education deepened during my time working with children, families, and educators. Through that experience and the many others that followed, I developed an unwavering belief in the life-changing power of high-quality early childhood education.

Wishes for the future of children...

My wish is for all children to grow up in a safe and loving environment, where they can share their unique gifts with the world. In our country, I hope that we can reach the day where all children are valued by society, and families have universal access to high-quality early childhood programs and wraparound supports, starting at birth. 


What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not working, I am mostly reading and writing papers to complete my doctoral degree in education. If I am not doing schoolwork, I enjoy baking and watching true crime TV.


October 2020

Jolleen Tran

DCAEYC Treasurer 2017-2020

Kindergarten Teacher, Charles Barrett Elementary

Who are you?

I am an event planner turned educator and lifelong advocate for early childhood education.


What is the nature of your job?

During the day, I am a kindergarten teacher at a CETA (Changing Education Through the Arts) school where I incorporate all art forms into my teaching. We sing, dance, draw, and do a lot of movement during the day! I nurture, support, and teach my students to advocate for themselves and become independent. My role as a kindergarten teacher is to help my students love learning and to stay curious and excited about the world around them. 


In the evening, I am the Treasurer of the DCAEYC board. After three years of service, my term is ending. My experience on the board has been impactful to my growth in the field of education. As the financial officer of the organization, I was in charge of maintaining the financial records, creating the annual budget, and reviewing financial policies and procedures. 


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

I'm a career switcher because I find early childhood education so meaningful for children. It is a child’s first impression of school and so many foundational lessons are learned during this time. I also noticed a lack of equity in early childhood education which is fundamental for future learning. Not all children are given access to a quality experience and many families are not informed of the wonderful resources that can shape and support young children. As an early childhood educator and member of the DCAEYC board, I will continue to be persistent and communicative in supporting children and their families.


Wishes for the future of children...

My wish is that all children, regardless of their socio-economic status, are given a high-quality learning experience where they are nurtured, loved, and provided opportunities that spark their creativity and love of learning.


What do you do when you are not working?

During these times, we all have to be creative on what we're allowed to do outside of work. Because of this, I have picked up some new hobbies like painting and baking! I also love to run, read books, and spend a lot of time spoiling my niece. 


September 2020

Sally D'Italia

Director, Arnold & Porter Children's Center

President, SarEmi Education Consultants

Co-Chair, DC Directors Exchange

Who Are You?

My name is Sally D’Italia, and for over 30 years I have been an enthusiastic leader and advocate in the field of early learning and administration. I am currently the Director of Arnold & Porter Children’s Center and president of SarEmi Education Consultants, as well as the co-chair of the DC Directors Exchange. I hold a BS in Psychology, a MA in Early Childhood Administration and a Credential in Supporting Early Social and Emotional Development from the University of Minnesota, Center for Early Education and Development. The focus of the credential is supporting infant mental health through trauma informed practice and reflective supervision.


What is the nature of your job?

In addition to operating a NAEYC accredited early learning program for 28 years, my work involves supporting families and staff. As a visionary leader and advocate for quality and access to quality early learning, I have been active in the Washington, DC early learning community, serving many roles on committees such as the School Readiness Stakeholders Panel, the DC Commission on Early Childhood Teacher Compensation, the Program Quality subcommittee of the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council, and the Low Income Investment Fund Advisory Committee.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

My first job after undergraduate school was as a toddler teacher. My intent, at the time, was to attend graduate school to earn my Elementary Education teacher certification. I did attend graduate school up to the point of student teaching, when I realized my heart belonged to early learning.


The scope of growth and development during a child’s first five years of life is amazing! To me, I was seeing what I’d read about in my undergraduate studies come to life. And recognizing the importance of supporting this growth and development because it is the foundation of all later development and learning, I knew that I needed to be a part of this.


And this was also around the same time that my advocacy drive was born. At this same teaching job, I was earning $6 an hour with no benefits. Through my advocacy efforts at this school, by the time I left after eight years, all teachers were earning good salaries and we had benefits.


What is your wish for the future of children?

My wish for all children is that they have access to high-quality early learning programs regardless of where they live and their socio-economic status. And as an advocate, I will continue to work towards this with all of my energy, vision, and drive.


What do you do when you’re not working?

One of my passions is writing. I’ve written two children’s books, “If this Buggy Could Talk” and "What Would You Do With a Soccer Ball on Your Shoe?” I’m also an avid traveler and foodie.

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August 2020

Professor Florence Baby Koroma

Dean, Bishop John Collins Teachers’ College

Stella Maris Polytechnic University

Monrovia, Liberia

Who are you?

I am Florence Baby Koroma, Dean, Bishop John Collins Teachers’ College, the College of Education at Stella Maris Polytechnic University, a Catholic University in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. I am married with five children, three boys and two girls.  I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church and Chairman of the Higher Education Consortium for Early Childhood Education in Liberia. I am a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and of the District of Columbia affiliate (DCAEYC). 


My first NAEYC conference was in November of 2013 while participating in an international Study Tour to New York and Washington, DC.  Since that time, I have attended the Professional Development Institute and two additional national conferences.  At the 2019 NAEYC conference, I had the opportunity to make a presentation in collaboration with the Honorable Felicia Sackey Doe-Sumah who is the Assistant Minister for Basic through Secondary Education in the National Liberian Ministry of Education.


What is the nature of your job?

As Dean of the College of Education,  I perform several tasks:  (1) Development of Policies and ensure  implementation; (2) Design  programs and activities of the college; (3) Recruit students, faculty and teaching staff for the demonstration school; (4) Teach early childhood  and other education  courses; (5) Monitor and supervise students and staff; (6) Evaluate student teachers and college faculty performance; (7) Conduct guidance and counseling services for students and teachers; (8) Conduct professional development workshops for faculty; (9) Review curriculum and current programs; (10) Responsible for the preparation of schedules and teaching faculty assignments; (11) Evaluate and Improve on  teaching methods; (12) Prepare periodic reports for the Board of Governors; and, (13) Network with other Educational institutions and stakeholders. 


What interest/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

I am passionate about children. This passion for children started when I was younger. This is magic! A big one too! When my mother gave birth, that was a mystery to me seeing the child developing and growing. My mother would answer so many whys about the baby.  I took care of my little siblings like they were mine. This passion led me to the profession that I find myself engaged in today. Seeing the children grow and develop to older children was magic and a miracle. Oh, their smell, is special. I love it.  


I see something new every day as I watch the children, changing.  First, they are wrapped up, next sitting down, crawling, cooing, standing up with support, taking the first steps. I become proud of their efforts. 


Wishes for the future of children...

Sincerely, my wishes are that the governments recognize the existence and importance of these generations of people and provide them with the right environment where they can thrive. Government should institute good policies for them, allot more funds in the budget. Initiate decisions that will eradicate the ills in society.  I pray that the parents show more love, care, give them quality time, educate them, show them respect, make them healthy, happy and they must have confident in themselves. 

The teachers should ensure the right environment where they can thrive, explore, and pursue goals. We all together must provide a pleasant experience for our children so that they can fulfill their lives dream.


What do you do when you are not working?

I am actually "working" when I am not working. I review my day's work, I research what is new about children, especially now with COVID-19. Before the COVID-19, I visited the homes of children with disabilities on weekends and conducted counseling services in my community.  On Sundays, I teach the children life skills lessons at my church, and complete house chores or business of the day.  Additionally, I take exercise, respond to emails and other messages and check on family members, friends, and relatives.

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June 2020

Jamal Berry

Deputy Director, Educare DC

President, DC Head Start Association

Who are you?
I am a man, a husband, a father, and a leader.

What is the nature of your job?
At Educare DC, I oversee programs and partnerships with other organizations that serve young children.
Our mission is to serve low income families with children ages birth to 5. Ultimately our measure of
success is to lessen the achievement gap for our children in addition to connecting families to resources
that they need for raising children. Basically that means that I comb through every detail of what it takes
to not only develop programs and partnerships that serve to meet health and educational needs of
young children, but I also spend a lot of time thinking of ways to build strong families and strong
programs that serve them.

What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?
I have always enjoyed caring for and teaching young children. Initially I was drawn to the field of early
childhood education because I knew that I could make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls.
Over the years, I have been drawn to the potential of the field. I have worked alongside countless early
childhood educators who are effective in helping small children develop skills that are the foundation for
lifelong learning. I believe that our field is beginning to earn the professional respect that it deserves,
and I am drawn to helping us achieve the recognition as some of the best and most important educators
in the world.

Wishes for the future of children...
My hope for future children is that they all have fair and equal access to early learning experience. It is
important for me that others recognize that families from all walks of life love their children. However,
some families need support helping their young children get a head start on learning. It is my wish that
equality in education begins at birth.

What do you do when you are not working?
I am a family man. I love spending time with my wife and children. I have a newfound interest in growing
my own food and I’ve got a set of golf clubs in my garage that I am looking forward to learning to use. I
enjoy traveling and playing cards with my friends. Also, I like to spend time fraternizing with my
fraternities and reading leadership and motivational books.

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May 2020

Berna Artis

Head of School, School of Friends

DCAEYC thanks Berna Artis for her four years of service on the DCAEYC board. We appreciate her for all she's done in forging a path for growth, and look forward to continue working with her as a DCAEYC member.

Who are you?

I am the Head of School for Friends, a preschool in Dupont Circle. I have been dedicated to the field of education for more than 20 years, having held various roles and taught middle and high school students prior to my work in early childhood education. I have been involved in various volunteer work, such as serving on the DCAEYC Board from 2016 to 2020, providing professional development trainings at conferences, and being part of various work groups focusing on equity, diversity, and high-quality practices in early childhood education for all children. I believe in lifelong learning and in cherishing each other’s experiences.


What is the nature of your job?

I lead a dedicated team of 17 professionals in my school serving a highly diverse group of families and their children, with a focus on empathy, non-violence, diversity, and community.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

All children need and deserve a good start in life and educators play a critical role in this. Supporting other professionals, families, and providing the best experiences for children is every educator's responsibility.


Wishes for the future of children...

A child's success and prosperity should not be limited to where they were born or what kind of resources and privileges they did or did not have. Children are the architects of future generations and they deserve an equal opportunity in life.


What do you do when you are not working?

I cherish being with my family, enjoy reading all sorts of books, playing word games, volunteering and advocating for children, families, and educators. As a life-long learner, education is a huge part of my life and it is a way of living.


April 2020

Sarah Massie

Early Childhood Grade Level Chair and Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Plummer Elementary School

My name is Sarah Massie, and I am a DCPS early childhood teacher-leader proudly serving the Mary H. Plummer Elementary School community.


I discovered my passion for working with young children in high school. In the summer I worked as a child-care employee for my local Department of Recreation and Parks summer camps. Throughout college, I took every opportunity I could to learn and grow as a novice educator. This included working as a substitute teacher for the entire four years of my bachelor's degree.


When I graduated from Frostburg State University in Maryland jobs for teachers were not easy to find. Initially, I did a lot of substituting, as did many of my peers. This experience truly prepared me for my first teaching job. I officially began my career as a self-contained special education public preschool teacher in Maryland. Those first few years I had the privilege to learn from so many different teachers and special education service providers who are masters of their craft. That experience further fueled my passion to serve our youngest learners and their families. My early teaching experiences taught me the true value of building relationships with students, families, and school stakeholders. Shortly before I left Maryland I was a recipient of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Special Education Award of Excellence for my work with the children and families in the district.


I came into DCPS as a Capital Commitment Fellow, and for the past six years I have had the privilege to work at Plummer Elementary. During my time in DCPS, I have had the unique opportunity to engage in many leadership roles while still remaining a full-time classroom teacher. Within my school community, I serve as the ECE Grade Level Chair, ECE LEAP Leader and I am actively involved in the Academic Leadership Team. I also serve as a DCPS Teacher Selection Ambassador and ECED Professional Development Presenter. In 2017, I was asked to serve on the team that developed the 2019 DC Early Learning Standards for Science and Engineering. In 2018, I was recognized as an OSSE Master Science Teacher for Early Childhood. Most recently I have been a professional development presenter at the OSSE Early Childhood Summit, the OSSE STEM Summit, the Early Educators Leadership Conference, and the National Science Teachers Association Conferences. All of these experiences have provided me with the opportunity to grow in my teaching practice which now spans over 10 years in early learning. More importantly, the experiences have given me the chance to connect with and learn from other passionate educators. The most important role I hold is serving as an early childhood public school teacher here in the District of Columbia. I love being in the classroom and I believe that it is truly a privilege to serve DC families.


Currently, amid this pandemic, I am working to be as responsive and accessible as possible to all of the stakeholders in our school community. In these uncertain times, for me, it is the relationships I have built within the walls of our school that are seeing me through. It's the phone calls and text messages from coworkers, the video chats with students and emails from their parents, and yes, it's even our thread on Microsoft Teams entitled 'Plummer Joy'. Those small moments put a smile on my face and reaffirm my long-held belief that positive relationships are one of the necessary keys to high-quality education. As we continue to navigate this unprecedented crisis my hope is that every child and family living through this pandemic, especially here in DC, feels connected and supported by their school and teachers.


March 2020

Alexandra Cady

Program Manager, Trust for Learning

What is the nature of your job?

Trust for Learning is a funder collaborative working to measurably advance equity in early learning, making sure that our country’s most underserved children experience the highest quality traditions available — what we call “Ideal Learning.” To achieve this, we engage in and support efforts around: 1) movement building, 2) expanding Head Start, 3) shaping policy, 4) improving practice, and 5) creating more inclusive Ideal Learning teacher pathways.


As Program Manager, I organize, coordinate, and enhance the quality of new and existing projects and policy-related initiatives. A large part of my work includes overseeing half of our grant-funded projects. In this role, I assist grantees in achieving their goals by serving as a thought partner to flesh out and enhance proposals, providing technical assistance throughout the duration of the grant, and implementing strategies for building on the project after its completion. I am also deeply involved in strengthening and implementing the Trust’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work, focusing on conducting internal evaluations and hosting public webinars.


What interests/concerns drew you to early childhood work?

I began my work in education focused on higher education. While higher education can be hugely important to career advancement and success, it is out of reach for too many children who have been underserved by the education system their whole lives. I quickly realized I wanted to work in early education with younger children helping ensure that every child receives a high-quality education that enables them to thrive and meet their potential, whether that includes enrolling in higher education or not.


I was drawn to early childhood work because it impacts every child and because of its great potential to improve equity in our country. Especially given today’s divided, angry political climate and the current inequities and injustices in our existing systems, a highly personalized, developmentally appropriate, and joyful early education experience for every child could create a brighter, more compassionate future.


Wishes for the future of children...

My wish for the future of children is that every child experiences an early childhood education that makes them feel loved and supported, piques their curiosity, and expands their horizons.


What do you do when you are not working?

Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, going to concerts, and running. Currently, I’m in the midst of planning my wedding!