The Building Bright Futures Apprenticeship Summit 2024 Recap

<<< Back to April 2024 Newsletter

After months of anticipation, our participants and partners – from Beaufort to Buncombe counties and many counties in between – gathered in Asheville, NC for the Building Bright Futures Apprenticeship Summit at A-B Technical Community College on April 15th. The event, our first in-person event in western NC, brought together apprentices, mentors, child care directors, CTE teachers, sponsors, and other stakeholders, all of whom have a dedicated interest in supporting our NC early childhood workforce. The Summit served as a means of not only providing a day of enrichment and learning for BBF participants, but also as a show of appreciation and support for early childhood educators from organizations and government officials across the state. 

BBF Apprenticeship Summit - Main Room

Morgan Ford, BBF Program Director, welcomed the audience and introduced Jess Englert, Policy Director for the Office of the Governor. Englert echoed Governor Cooper’s stance on the support for early childhood education, stating, “I feel lucky to work for a governor who believes the smartest investment you can make is in early childhood education and care. He believes that prioritizing quality early childhood education is the right and smart thing to do for kids, parents, businesses, and our state.” 

Ariel Ford, Director of DHHS’ Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) expressed her continued support for early childhood educators, stating, “We can’t raise NC without you. Families and children need you more than ever. You are literally changing children’s lives and you are saving families. You have the whole state behind you and together, we are going to build a North Carolina that is the best place to raise a child in this whole country.”

BBF Apprenticeship Summit 2024 - Mentor Breakout Session

The Keynote Panel included guests from the Early Childhood Workforce Connector, one of two of the recently funded Early Childhood Registered Apprenticeship Industry Intermediaries funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. They promote developing, launching, and expanding Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) to support a diverse, inclusive, well-qualified, and well-compensated Early Childhood Education (ECE) workforce. Kara Lehnhardt and Marian Grant-Whitlock from the Early Childhood Workforce Connector and Cassandra Brooks, Owner and Operator of Little Believers Academy shared their powerful stories of how they got their start in early childhood education. They discussed research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that finds early childhood programs can provide “protective factors” for children experiencing ACEs, which counter their long-term effects. Attendees walked away with a charge – something to take into their communities. All were invited to think about their story as they continue their apprenticeship or mentor journey. 

Sessions for apprentices, mentors, and sponsors were held following the keynote, covering topics ranging from Apprenticeship 101 to honing ECE advocacy skills, mindfulness practices for educators, and mentor wellness. The gorgeous spring mountain weather brought many attendees outside to enjoy a boxed lunch before joining a second round of breakout sessions. Sessions and presenters included:

  • Walking the Talk: Honing Your Everyday ECE Advocacy Skills
    Marian Grant-Whitlock, Early Childhood Workforce Connector
    Kara Lehnhardt, Early Childhood Workforce Connector
    BBF Apprenticeship Summit 2024 - Advocacy Session
  • Focus on What Fascinates: How to Nurture Relationships and Create Meaningful Learning Experiences Using Children’s Interests
    Tamara Reynolds, Department Chair, Education, A-B Technical Community College
  • CCSA – The Mentee/Mentor Relationship – M.A.P.P.
    Sharon Little, T.E.A.C.H. Higher Education Liaison Manager, Child Care Services Association
  • Apprenticeship 101
    Charlie Milling, Apprenticeship Consultant, ApprenticeshipNC
  • The Benefits of Mindfulness:  Supporting Educators
    Brittany Crumley, Assistant Professor, Greenville Technical College, Greenville, SC
  • Wellness: Building Capacity for Mentor Wellness
    Sharon Little, T.E.A.C.H. Higher Education Liaison Manager, Child Care Services Association
  • Reflective Supervision: Insights and Growth
    Gabriel Guyton, IMH-E®, ConnectEd Circles, Asheville, NC

Dr. Ereka Williams, VP – Education, Dogwood Health Trust, gave powerful closing remarks as she recounted her career in early childhood, beginning as a school van monitor in Bertie County at age 14. She credited her mentors, who encouraged her at every step of her educational journey. She acknowledged the apprentices and mentors in the room at the Summit, stating, “It cannot be understated the significance of your role as mentors. To the apprentices, it cannot be understated the value of that person who is making the investment in you. I credit anything that I’ve done that is worthwhile to the people that have invested in me and encouraged me.” Dr. Williams also emphasized the lifelong impact of investing in high-quality early childhood education, citing that the return on investment in early childhood education suggests tremendous value, ranging from $4 to $13 in return for every $1 spent. “This work is truly a gift that keeps on giving,” Dr. Williams said to attendees. “You have many people who are thankful for all that you do. Thank you for your investment and commitment to this work. We need all of you.”

The Building Bright Futures team would like to thank all the participants, partners, and presenters who traveled near and far to attend the BBF Apprenticeship Summit. We appreciate your time and your commitment to improving the lives of children, families, and our workforce of early educators. We look forward to sharing news of future events!