Working Group Members

Jessica Whittaker, Research Associate Professor, UVA School of Education and Human Development (Co-Chair)
Melissa Carter, Director of Head Start, Monticello Area Community Action Agency
Tamara Dias, Executive Director, African American Teaching Fellows
Toni Eubanks, Local Community Activist, Childcare Provider and Parent 
Tricia Goyea, Charlottesville City School Preschool Teacher, Venable Elementary
Sarah McLean, Vice-Chair, Early Education Task Force and Early Childhood Funders Network
Deborah Rogers, Executive Director, Barrett Early Learning Center
Debbie Shelor, Albemarle County Public Schools Preschool Teacher, Greer Elementary
Sara Shedd, Early Learning Director, City of Promise
Lucy Montalvo, Project Manager, UVA Equity Center


Goal: Substantial work and new opportunities in early childhood education (ECE) already exist within the local community and statewide. The goal of this group is to leverage the larger local and statewide ECE efforts (without being redundant with what has already occurred or what will occur, given large new state initiatives) to improve equity in early childhood education with expectations that young children (0-5) in our community who are from low-income backgrounds and children of color experience an effective, high-quality early childhood education.

Scope of Work

  • Given that much of the ECE teacher workforce earn less than a living wage, provide recommendations toward extending the living wage commitment (UVA, City) to local ECE centers to protect the investment in education, training and PD by professionalizing the wages early childhood educators receive and increasing retention. 
  • Gather information about current compensation practices at local private and public preschools and ECE centers.
  • Identify potential high leverage UVA-community collaborations that have the power to increase access to effective, high-quality early childhood education experiences for poor and minority children with an emphasis on teacher training (pre- and in-service) and curriculum. 
  • Determine the viability of a program that removes barriers for early education degree students from the local community, incentivizes local placement, and provides professional support to improve retention. 


Interim reports will be provided to the President’s Council on an ongoing basis and will include information on the following:

1. Recommendations about expanded access to placement and retention of qualified, trained, and supported early childhood educators in the local community.

2. Recommendations on the need to appropriately compensate early childhood educators so there is equitable access to highly qualified teachers who stay in the field.

3. Identification of one or two starting projects related to training and supporting ECE workers where UVA and the community will collaborate to increase effective, high-quality educational experiences for black and brown children from low-income backgrounds.

4. Identification of tangible and practically important markers of success and the existing and new resources needed to achieve success for implemented projects.