Building Resilient Early Childhood Educators: How 80x3 Supports Teacher Well-Being

A preschool teacher is hugging a student in her arms

Jamie Bonczyk


 A 2022 study showed that 45% of early childhood educators reported to be battling mental health challenges and burnout. Just as educators care for children, they must also care for themselves and each other. To ensure teachers can give their all to every student, Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 80x3: Resilient from the Start initiative partners with educators and program administrators to provide a wide array of resources promoting teacher well-being and professional development. 80x3 works with professional development providers and early childhood programs to give teachers growth opportunities focused on trauma-sensitive care, including training, workshops, and cohorts.

Educators like those at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center located in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, MN utilize the training offered through 80x3 to recognize triggers and traumas in their classroom and it has “opened their eyes” as teachers. The Hallie Q. Brown program was founded as part of an effort to address the growing challenges facing marginalized communities, in particular African American families, in Minnesota’s capital city. The mission of the center is to enhance community well-being by offering essential human services, preserving African American heritage, and promoting personal development, self-reliance, and community leadership.  96% of the program's enrollment is African American and 95% of the families are low-income.

Hallie Q. Brown and many other early childhood centers have seen an uptick of students entering their programs with stresses and trauma that were not being addressed in traditional child care settings. When left unaddressed, trauma and stresses experienced by children in the first few years of their life can significantly impact their brain and body development, potentially leading to long-term consequences on their physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. Angelica Goettl, Assistant Executive Director at Hallie Q. Brown, and her staff saw the need to help and jumped into action, utilizing the partnership with 80x3 to prioritize trauma-informed care development programs for staff to get ahead of the curve. The team noticed an incredible improvement in the children and the classroom atmosphere as the impact of this training became more evident. Caring, communication, and a consistent feedback loop between child and educator have created a more constructive, growth-oriented classroom for each student. "The training has made such a difference, not just for myself or the staff, but for the kids,” Angelica said.

Angelica stresses how important it is for the holistic success of the program for teachers to be feeling their best, something professional development programming through the 80x3 partnership has highlighted as a key to providing the best care for every child. "When life is getting in the way, you're not giving 100% to those little people. We want to give every teacher the resources so they can be here 100%," she remarked. “They bring us the resources to face the challenges that we are dealing with. They do the legwork, they do the research, and we can feel confident doing our work with their support.” Angelica and her colleagues recognize traumas and triggers within each other, just as they would with the children in their classroom.

High job turnover and burnout are a critical challenge in education as teacher shortages continue to worsen across the country. According to Forbes, roughly one-quarter, 24%, of teachers have expressed the inability to cope with job stress compared to just 12% of workers in other professions, underscoring the need to prioritize the well-being of educators as essential to maintaining a positive and effective learning environment for young children. Hallie Q. Brown’s partnership with 80x3 has given educators like Angelica and her team access to resources they otherwise wouldn’t have, allowing them to impart trauma-informed care practices not only in their classrooms but also in their interactions with one another. When educators take care of themselves and each other, they can create a more nurturing and positive learning environment.

If you would like to learn more about opportunities for educators and classrooms through 80x3 Resilient from the Start, click here.

About the Author

Jamie Bonczyk is a Program Officer for 80×3: Resilient from the Start, an innovative region-wide initiative to increase capacity to support parenting skills and provide trauma-sensitive early child care in a safe, stable environment that supports child resiliency. Her background includes the roles of executive director of an early learning nonprofit, Head Start administrator, adjunct instructor, author, professional development content creator, and preschool teacher. Jamie has a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s degree from Roosevelt University, both in early childhood education. She completed a Head Start Management Fellowship at UCLA and became a Certified Professional Project Manager through the University of St Thomas.

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2 comments on “Building Resilient Early Childhood Educators: How 80x3 Supports Teacher Well-Being”

  1. I just would like to take a moment and thank you, Jamie, for the training, the listening ear, and the support. Although we have more to learn regarding 80x3. The trauma-informed training has opened more understanding as we move forward with families and our community. Understanding where the trauma begins and how it affects the long term if not addressed has been an eye-opener for myself as well as the staff. Thank you again, and look forward to continued partnership.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It's truly heartening to hear that the training and support have been beneficial for you and your team. The journey toward understanding and addressing trauma is indeed ongoing, and I'm glad to hear that the trauma-informed training has opened new perspectives and insights.

      Recognizing where trauma begins, and its long-term effects is crucial for creating a supportive environment for families and the community. The 80x3 team is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this journey with you and your colleagues at Mary T Wellcome, and we look forward to our continued partnership as we strive to make a positive impact.

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