by Tiffini Simoneaux, 2018 OCDEL Policy Fellow
In my role as the Early Childhood Manager in the Mayor’s Office of Pittsburgh I have the privilege of being able to advocate on behalf of children, families and child care providers in the City. I recently two opportunities to speak publicly about the need for increased investments in Early Childhood Education on a radio segment as well as at a House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing. I have to admit that public speaking makes me very nervous and is a something that I am continually working on. I am much more comfortable in front of a class of toddlers or preschoolers than I am being in a room full of adults and elected officials! But my background of having worked as both a teacher and as a Director in high quality early childhood programs pushes me to continue to challenge myself. Because of my former positions I know first-hand the transformative effect that high quality early learning opportunities can have on children. I also know that there are many children in Pittsburgh and throughout the Commonwealth who lack access to quality early learning experiences.
The OCDEL Policy Fellowship has been invaluable to my understanding of work being done at the state level and helps to inform the messages that I share. Just an example of what I have learned so far, before beginning the Fellowship I didn’t have a firm understanding of how the Pennsylvania Department of Education was structured. I look forward to continuing to learn about OCDEL as well as from my peers in the Fellowship. I know that participating in this opportunity will help me grow as a leader as well as a public speaker.