Dr. Teri DeLucca
Founder & CEO of Impact Early Education
Each week on “On a Mission” we talk to community leaders who are out to make a positive impact in the area. Today, our host Dr. Wendy Norfleet talks with Dr. Teri DeLucca from Impact Early Education.
To learn more, check out impactearlyed.com.
Short company description:
Teaching the next generation is a big job, and it requires comprehensive education and ongoing learning. Our goal is to completely transform the professional development experience for those in the field of early education. We know that we can impact children across our nation when we equip early educators with the tools, strategies, and knowledge necessary to give each child the strong foundation needed to succeed in life. Impact Early Education is a national professional development institute that provides valuable continuing education courses both online and in person for teachers, directors, and owners in ways that work for them so that they can focus on what matters most, helping children thrive. Our evidence-based courses are engaging, affordable, effective, and clients actually enjoy taking them. Ninety six percent of our customers say our sessions changed how they teach and 92% say we changed how they think. We want preschools to thrive, teachers to stay in the field, and Directors to lead with intentionality and skill. We also offer in person speaking engagements & workshops focused on leadership, stress management, communication skills, and resiliency. These are available for any organization and are not focused on early education.
How do you define success?
Great question! Success in our culture seems to often be defined by materialism, accomplishments, money, prestige, that sort of thing. It’s important that we come up with our own personal definitions of success so that default doesn’t settle in, so really in that sense success is unique to each person. Success is knowing your purpose in life and doing the work necessary to grow into the best version of you possible (hint, we never arrive at that). I think your attitude and personal leadership skills, how you lead yourself, are key to successfully fulfilling your purpose. We have to have the courage to be vulnerable and to fail, to show up and dare to do a hard/important thing without knowing the outcome. Each time we overcome our own doubts and fears and step into the arena to try something, we grow a little more in confidence & boldness. With each little success we believe in ourselves a little more. If we fail, well we learn what didn’t work and we try a new way to move the needle towards our purpose. To me that vulnerability to push yourself out of your comfort zone & embrace the risk of failure whether it be a new relationship, a new skill or job, etc is necessary for all success. The last key element of success is centered on relationships. Our connection, empathy, and kindness towards others, because strong relationships are how we influence those around us and help to improve and infuse goodness into others’ lives.
What are your biggest goals in the next 12 Months for your business?
We have been growing and expanding into new states and countries and recently became internationally accredited. I have several goals for this year. I plan to continue to grow my business so that we are impacting more children and are in more schools both nationally and internationally. I really hope to do some advocacy work for the early education industry as a whole, to have an impact on policy decisions and to lead change for our industry. The preschool industry is the backbone of our country. Without childcare people can’t do their jobs and without the necessary foundation in academic and social skills, our children won’t have the life opportunities needed to succeed later in life. I don’t think many understand the crisis that our industry is in. Schools have waitlists of over a hundred families waiting for spots yet schools have empty classrooms b/c they are unable to staff as they need to. The pandemic took what was already a problem and exacerbated it to the greatest degree. Early educators are overwhelmed and burnt out and are leaving our field to work in elementary schools or outside of the field all together. I also have plans that extend farther into the future to begin new programs under the Impact Early Education umbrella, such as a non-profit for our low income schools and tribal communities, a parenting program, and a program for children with special needs. This year will be producing a higher number of new online courses and begin laying the groundwork for the new programs coming in the next 3 years.
What’s your favorite way to get involved in the community?
I truly enjoy volunteer work and I have taken a few different paths, international mission trips, and groups that take a very narrow focus & others with a broad focus. I served and led the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, which is a women’s volunteer organization. What’s great about groups like this is that we worked with so many different non profits in the community. We built houses with Habitat for Humanity, boys and girls’ homes, women’s transition homes, organizations who serve the homeless, organizations focused on animals and the environment, and several other types. We also planned large community based events to fundraise. So not only did I get exposure to several different places and could narrow in on what organizations I was most passionate about, I also gained so many new skills that have helped me across the board. The most impactful for me personally though, has been mission trips to Guatemala & the Big Brothers Big Sisters program bc of the depth of the relationships formed. I was matched with little girls, one in Guatemala and one here in the states and now they are in their 20s. In fact, I have been matched with my “little sister” for 18 years now. I have said repeatedly that these two girls have impacted my life far more than I have theirs. I gained a new family and it’s been an honor to help and speak into their lives as they grew from little girls into beautiful women, out on their own in the big world now. I am a better me because of their role in my life.