Position: Program Director
Organization: Child Care Aware of West Central Arkansas
Terri Helms’ first professional experience was for a public school, serving as a para-professional/interpreter for the deaf in Lincoln, NE. To her, that experience validated the value of special needs and family engagement for children. She also worked as a volunteer in her children’s public schools, in faith-based programs, camps and community service agencies. She also substitute taught while completing her degrees and working in child care facilities. Her first supervisory position was at a Head Start, after relocating to Arkansas her career opportunities flourished and she became an ECE trainer, CDA Instructor, TA for quality, State-funded Pre-K Lead Teacher and facility Director for a private, then faith-based, Quality Level 3 program. To Helms, leadership is about encouraging others to be their best using the strengths they have and stretching themselves beyond what they thought was possible. With National Park College’s support, Child Care Aware WCA provides services in 13 Arkansas counties and collaborates with state agencies and programs.
Helms has a MA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, CA, with a specialization in Leadership in Education and Human Services and sub-specialization in Administration/Supervision. Living in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas presented a variety of opportunities to Helms to experience and learn regional cultures.
Read an interview with new board member Terri Helms
Q: Was there a moment or event that inspired you to enter the early childhood education profession?
A: Becoming a mom and stepping away from an office job was the turning point of opportunities to enter the ECE profession. The journey is one I still enjoy.
Q: When did you first learn about / become involved with CCAoA?
A: In 2012 – I was hired at National Park College as the first Director for Child Care Aware® of West Central Arkansas.
Q: What aspect(s) of early care and education are you most passionate about?
A: I care about professionalism and providing children with engaging opportunities to develop and learn.
Q: From your perspective, what is the single most important step we can take to build a better child care system?
A: Remember the parents/families are the first caregivers/teachers and that early child care education professionals are to provide the best support, care and learning experiences to further develop children for life readiness.