Charlette Smith first decided she wanted to become a teacher when she was in sixth grade and her teacher Ms. Walker played such an inspirational role in Smith’s life. Ms. Walker was a teacher that stood beside her students and assisted them step-by-step with their classwork to ensure they understood what they were doing. Smith began to start tutoring students when she was in seventh grade after school.
Smith attended Lucy Flower High School where she was part of the first School-to-Work Bill that was signed by President Bill Clinton. Smith graduated Salutatorian of her graduating class. Smith later attended Chicago State University but had to withdraw before she could finish her degree.

Smith was working for Happy Holiday Nursery and Kindergarten where she began as a preschool teacher. She later enrolled in Olive-Harvey College where she began to take some classes in Education. While at Olive-Harvey, Smith had a very influential Education Department where she received her associate degree in Child Development in May 2019. Even after spending 20 years teaching young children, Smith still found herself learning new ideas and concepts from other teachers and professors in the early childhood education program at Olive-Harvey.

Between working at Happy Holiday Nursery & Kindergarten, attending college courses Smith did not stop there, she attended various online trainings, in-person workshops as well as a Directors Cohort training to better her teaching and leadership skills as well as teaching skills.

After receiving her associate degree, Smith did not know which way to go but she knew she wanted to achieve her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development. After her Director attended a meeting, she received information about the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship (CELWS) and Smith jumped right on it. Smith enrolled at National Louis University for the Fall 2019 school year and is currently in her senior year with a 3.8 GPA.

Smith is very thankful for her family prayers and support. She has worked at Happy Holiday Nursery and Kindergarten for twenty years and the staff and the Director have been phenomenal with their support and encouragement. Without the assistance of the CELWS team, finishing her degree would have been impossible and she is forever grateful.

For more information about the CELWS program, click here.