As early childhood professionals, we know that young children who attend high-quality child care receive long-lasting benefits beyond learning their letters and shapes. Research shows the many positive and long-term outcomes for these children, including better school performance, higher graduation rates, increased earnings in adulthood and higher rates of home ownership.
To showcase these long-term outcomes, we tracked down a former student (enrolled from ages 2 to 5) of Brown’s Day Care, a Durham based, 5-star child care center. Today this student – Delecia Utley – has the highest GPA of her freshman class at Hillside High School in Durham. Delecia was happy to share a few minutes of her busy day with us for the following Q & A. Many thanks to Delecia and Cheryl Brown, site director and owner at Brown’s Day Care!
What exciting plans do you have this summer?
I just returned from a 10-day National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine where I got to watch a live knee replacement surgery. [NOTE: Delecia was nominated for participation in the forum based on a high PSAT score]. I also have flute practice and band camp for the Hillside Marching Band, as well as softball practice, and dance during the evenings.
Viewing a live surgery is a rare experience and not for the faint of heart. How did you handle it?
It’s no big deal. At Hillside we dissected a frog, a sheep’s heart, and a cow’s eye. I also participate in the summer SMASS program through North Carolina Central. There we dissected a shark and a pig during our morning science sessions.
Any great summer reading?
I have required summer reading – The Metamorphosis – through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Hillside. Besides that I am taking Spanish II over the summer. The IB program requires students to take five Spanish courses by graduation. Summer courses are part of the program and the workload is hefty. It’s easy to fall behind.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Mrs. Cheryl [of Brown’s Day Care] has a picture of that tree from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on the preschool wall.
Do you feel like you were prepared for high school?
Yes. I had great teachers in middle school and always made straight A’s. Learning how to read music in middle school helped me prepare for life in the marching band at Hillside. The best way to stay focused is to keep on top of my schoolwork. The strict assignment deadlines at Hillside are a plus.
What do you like most about high school? Least?
Band is definitely my favorite part of high school. I have so much respect for my band teacher.
My least favorite part of high school is lunch. They serve the same thing every day. The worst part is the free and reduced lunch line. Everyone knows what that line means. The line is so long it winds outside the cafeteria door. And that doesn’t include the people who are too ashamed to stand in that line.
The IB program at Hillside prepares students for college. Are you already thinking about which college you’d like to attend?
If offered a scholarship, I would attend NCCU. But I truly want to go to college further from home. Howard and Spellman are my top picks. And I really want to focus on getting an academic scholarship, not an athletic or music scholarship.
You now volunteer at Brown’s Day Care. What made you come back to help?
I came back to spend time at Brown’s because I like it here. I was volunteering here during middle school, before it was required of me through the IB program.
You’ve been involved with Brown’s since you were 2 years old. What is your earliest memory of those experiences?
A birthday party with a moonbounce, our nature walks, weekly visits from Mr. Marsh that included singing and dancing, and the Book-Mobile.
Do you remember your teachers and any of what they taught you?
Mrs. Cheryl and Mrs. Francis. They taught me the joy of music, and how to snap. [NOTE: According to Cheryl Brown, Delecia was always dancing. She has loved music since very early on].
What qualities do you think make a great teacher?
Patience. Learning happens at different rates for different students. A good teacher knows how to manage a classroom and earn the students’ respect. A good teacher is in control of her classroom.
Tell us, is it hard to stay out of trouble as a teenager these days?
Not for me. I hang around with the right people. But I see students breaking the rules, sneaking around all the time. They are so good at hiding it.
What is the best advice you were ever given? Who gave you that advice?
My band teacher has been a big inspiration. He always encourages – and demands – us to get our school work done before anything else. He is like the father I never had.
What advice would you offer to other students?
Don’t fall into peer pressure. Don’t get behind in your schoolwork. It’s really hard to catch up once you’re behind.