Supporting Teachers Helps Children Too

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are celebrating teachers, and the many ways that quality educators impact a child’s life in a positive way. We’re also talking about how high-quality pre-K programs cultivate and support teachers so that they can bring their best selves to the classroom.  


Good Teachers = Good Outcomes 


People who work in education have long known that positive teacher-student relationships benefit children. Mary Ann Wolf, President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, recently said that “Teachers are the number-one school-related factor influencing student outcomes,” on the EdNC blog. She added, “Teachers have the immense responsibility of preparing our children to be educated and well-equipped community members.” That’s why teachers are so important.   


The Institute of Education Sciences was asked the question, “What does the research say about the relationship between preschool teacher qualifications and student outcomes?” They reviewed multiple studies and shared some great findings. These include: 

  • High-quality preschool education depends on effective, high-quality teachers.  
  • Pre-K programs with higher teacher qualification requirements improve children’s school readiness. 
  • The most effective preschool teachers have more responsive interactions with children, provide richer language and cognitive experiences, and are less authoritarian.  
  • Teacher education and experience were related to the development of letter identification, number concepts, literacy and mathematics. 


They also highlight research that says the effectiveness of early childhood education requires a broad range of professional development activities and support targeted toward teachers’ interactions with children. 


Professional Development 


High-quality pre-K programs want to prepare teachers for success by providing regular professional development, coaching and support. In Mecklenburg County, NC, MECK Pre-K provides teachers and assistant teachers with regular opportunities to increase their knowledge through professional development and continuing education. Opportunities include:  


  • MECK Pre-K hosts an annual “Welcome Back” event before school starts. For a week, teachers enjoy workshops that provide support/skills to help with curriculum, activity planning, meeting social/emotional needs, and other topics.  
  • MECK Pre-K provides “success coaches” who check in with them weekly and provide additional support when needed. They also host Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for teachers and administrators to plan together, share ideas, and analyze student data together. 
  • Teachers and assistant teachers receive opportunities to be mentors, leads and trainers.  
  • They also have access to a Child and Family Support team to assist students and their families, who may be having difficulties in or out of the classroom.   


Creativity and Curriculum 


Good pre-K teachers are encouraged to be creative while also following a high-quality curriculum. MECK Pre-K uses the Creative Curriculum®, a hands-on, project-based approach to education that incorporates real life experiences into the learning process. The curriculum is based on five fundamental principles that guide teachers in setting up and operating their classrooms.   


  1. Positive interactions and relationships with adults provide a critical foundation for successful learning. 
  1. Emotional-social competence is a significant factor in school success. 
  1. Constructive, purposeful play supports essential learning. 
  1. The physical environment affects the type and quality of learning interactions. 
  1. Teacher-family partnerships promote development and learning. 


MECK Pre-K students spend each day learning, practicing real life skills and expanding their knowledge. Teachers are trained to follow a child’s interests, build on previous knowledge, and provide real world experience based on that knowledge. This offers a lot of space for teachers to be creative and follow their students’ interests.  


Finding and Retaining Quality Educators 


High-quality pre-K programs work far ahead to ensure that they have a pool of highly qualified and committed teachers. They do that in a variety of ways. In Mecklenburg County, there are two different scholarship programs for early education teachers.  


  • The STRIVE Scholarship at Central Piedmont Community College can help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies and technology for those pursuing an Associate in Applied Science in early childhood education.  
  •  The MECK Pre-K Scholarship at the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education provides tuition, supplies and family care support for candidates with a bachelor’s degree to obtain their birth-to-kindergarten license. 


In many cases, pre-K programs allow teachers to be in the classroom while working toward their licensure or degree. The MECK Pre-K website gives a lot of good information about the qualifications and benefits of being a pre-K teacher.  


About MECK Pre-K 

MECK Pre-K is high quality pre-K open to all four-year-old children in Mecklenburg County at no cost to families. Classrooms are located in licensed childcare centers and taught by licensed teachers and highly qualified assistant teachers. You can apply online at 


Do you have a child who is not old enough for pre-K this year? Sign up for our email list and be notified when they’re eligible for MECK Pre-K. Simply go to and select your child’s age group.