A Great Head Start In Early Learning


Lead Teacher, Awilda Ramirez, raises the bar regarding Early Learning education at KenCrest’s Adams Early Learning Center.

By Sydney Kerelo

Coming from a long line of teachers in the Dominican Republic, Awilda Ramirez didn’t know what career path she wanted to take when she moved to the United States. But she knew one thing: she loved caring for children.

Growing up in the DR, Ramirez helped care for her siblings, cousins, and neighbors; she even ran her daycare, where she would take everyone to the movies or on little field trips. Her love of children and her constant interactions with kids sparked her mom to ask her when she’d become a teacher constantly, but she never thought about being one until she came to America.

“When I came here, I had to start all over again because I couldn’t use my credentials from over there,” says Ramirez. “I needed to start thinking about what I could do, and one thing I found was that I really loved taking care of children, and I could do that here.”


Ramirez, with a few of her students, is learning about the garden. // Photo by Sydney Kerelo

Ramirez quickly enrolled in a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification course and began completing 120 hours of professional education. Once her classes were underway, the next step was to meet 480 hours of work experience at a licensed Early Childhood facility, and she chose KenCrest’s Kensington Early Learning Center (ELC), where she fell in love.

“I was only there for a little over a week, but I loved it,” says Ramirez. “I went to a few other places after that, but I always wanted to be at KenCrest in the end.”

After earning her CDA certificate, Ramirez worked for a different Early Learning Center for four years before returning to her roots, this time at KenCrest’s Adams Early Learning Center, where she currently works as the Lead Teacher for the Head Start program.

According to Ramirez, KenCrest has always been the end goal for her. Ever since she first stepped foot in the Kensington Center, she’s wanted to work for the Oorganization. After her first encounter, she saw how dedicated all the teachers and staff members were to not only the parents and families but, most importantly, the children.

Every child that walks through KenCrest’s doors is welcomed into a comforting, calming environment where they can learn, thrive, and grow. KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers are accredited by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS program and use the HighScope curriculum to support positive development academically, socially, physically, and emotionally for childhood growth.

Ramirez believes that the early years are crucial in education for children, and what is learned will impact how a person grows, learns, and develops later in life. Children learn early on how to manage their emotions, how to deal with social situations, and learn how to interact with others in positive ways. As a teacher, Ramirez believes that her role is to set a positive example and show each child a good experience outside of education. As soon as she walks into a classroom, she ensures that her students will learn something worthwhile and have a good time doing it.


Ramirez's students playing in the garden. // Photo by Sydney Kerelo

“Every child is different; some have issues at home while others don’t; some can read, others can’t, and some speak different languages. But once they are in my classroom, I set the mood for them to start feeling ok,” says Ramirez. “I want them to feel like they can have a good day, and you will see by the middle of the day that each child is enjoying the day, and that’s my main goal, for the kids to go home happy.”

For the past two years, Awilda has worked at KenCrest’s Adams Center as the former Associate Teacher and now the Lead Teacher. But while she had dedicated the past few years to ensuring the success of KenCrest’s ELC students, they have become like family to her as well.

“One of my favorite memories is from this past January when I had to take off for like two weeks because my son had emergency surgery, and when I came back, everyone was so happy to see me,” says Ramirez. “When they saw me, their faces lit up, and they were really happy to have me back in the classroom, and seeing how they were celebrating that I was back will stay in my mind forever. It made my day.”

For more than a century KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers have paved the way for children in underserved communities to have a great head start through community-based early learning and high-quality programs.

Learn more about KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers and programs by clicking the link below.