Kat Braatz feels fortunate. In 2019, she began working as a school-age teacher at Encompass’ De Pere Center and a few months ago she moved into a new position as an associate director at the Bellin Health Center in Allouez. The new job would not have happened without the encouragement and support she received from Encompass as she pursued additional education, she says.
“I love working at Encompass. They look out for everyone and encourage you to go back to school,” Kat says.
Encompass invests in its staff and encourages them to continue their education, including applying for a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Wisconsin scholarship. The scholarship covers most of the cost for additional education for those working in an early childhood or school-age setting. Kat says receiving a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship transformed her life.
“I went back to school and earned an associate’s degree in early childhood education after I started working at Encompass,” she says. “The scholarship covered 90% of the cost and then Encompass picked up another 5%, which meant I only paid 5%. I was grateful I didn’t need any loans to get my degree.”
Encouraging employees to pursue additional education is one way Encompass invests in its staff. In 2021, all employees also received a pay raise and a retention bonus to realize its For the Children Campaign goal to Recruit and Retain Teachers at Competitive Wages.
“Encompass’ ‘Stay and Grow with Us’ message is something we started in 2021 and will carry forward. We know that ongoing professional development is essential to the early childhood field and investing in our employee professional growth has impactful outcomes,” says Executive Director Missy Schmeling. “We have a responsibility to the children and families we serve to be our best self in developing the next generation of leaders.”
Kat’s degree made it possible to move into her new role at the Bellin center. She saw the position posted and talked with the associate director at the De Pere location to learn more about the role. After hearing more about it, Kat decided to apply.
“It’s not easy to work full-time and go back to school, but I’m glad I did it,” she says. “I really enjoy what I do.”