Local educator joins state child care leadership

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/Managing Editor

Long-time Verbena High School teacher Dr. Heather Scott has accepted a position working with the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

In her role as a Child Care Subsidy Program Specialist program coordinator, she will work with contract agencies throughout the state to increase the availability and quality of early childhood education programs.

“I am responsible for coordinating the administration and delivery of certain program services across the state,” Scott said. “These programs are delivered by agencies we have contracted with to provide services that align with our goals and objectives through our authorized quality enhancement services. Our services range from providing comprehensive public consumer education, public resources and referrals, to offering training and technical assistance.”

Some of Scott’s initial projects are focused on creating new programs for education, certification and incentive bonuses for those working with infants and toddlers and a system that will help early childcare providers keep up with professional development.

The ultimate goal of the department is to ensure that students have a good educational foundation for school.

“This position immediately spoke to me because it gave me an opportunity to combine my skill set and work experience with my academic training to make a bigger impact to help more children on an even larger scaler,” Scott said.

She liked how the position would give her an opportunity “to make a difference in the lives of so many people across the state.”

“In this position, my goal is to do my part to improve the availability and the quality of early childhood opportunities for all the children in Alabama, to provide opportunities for increased morale and effectiveness to the early childhood providers across the state, and to increase the quality and availability of resources we are able to provide to facilities serving the students in our state,” Scott said.

Prior to accepting the position, Scott had taught in Chilton County Schools for 20 years, teaching preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades. She was also a reading tutor after the Alabama Literacy Act was passed.

“Making the decision to leave the classroom was very difficult, but after much prayer and consideration, I felt like it was the best opportunity for me to be able to contribute to the education of young children on a broader scale,” Scott said.

Scott completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2017 at Samford University.

Her dissertation topic focused on teacher shortages in the state of Alabama.

“Dr. (Eric) Mackey (Alabama State Superintendent of Education) requested to Samford University that the topic be further researched, and he later became my research client as a result,” Scott said. “The research of this topic led to travel across the state to interview superintendents and human resource directors of various school systems, all experiencing significant issues with teacher burnout and difficulty with teacher retention rates.”

Her research found that teacher shortages are being experienced in other states also,  and she explored ways school systems are trying to hire and retain teachers.

“Supports that can be put in place such as credentialing programs, ongoing support for teacher training, financial incentives, longevity bonuses, and more, are all a great starting point, which is why I am so excited to be a part of it in my new position,” Scott said. “I really do feel that we are going to see positive results from these efforts being made to support teachers in their workplace and to more carefully cater our efforts to the current trends of the needs being expressed by those currently in the field.”