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TCC’s first apprentice in early childhood education feels “like the luckiest person in the world”

Kori Wright wanted to pursue a college degree, but the mother of two needed to work full time to pay her bills.

Interviewing for a position at Creative World School, Wright discovered a dream scenario of “earn while you learn.” Today she is Tidewater Community College’s first apprentice in early childhood education.

The two-year apprenticeship allows Wright to take classes at TCC while being paid to work 40 hours a week with benefits as a teacher at Creative World School’s Riverwalk location in Chesapeake.

“I thought I’d have to choose between getting an education or working,” Wright said. “This is a mind boggling opportunity. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

TCC’s registered apprenticeship partners combine postsecondary education with a full-time job, allowing apprentices to attend college while gaining valuable, career-building skills and little to no student debt.

“Everybody wins – the children, the parents, the teachers,” said Courtney Pharr, owner of Creative World.

Added director Shannon Hull, “We want to hire quality educators in early childhood. Increasingly, having a degree is essential to working in the field and retaining quality teachers.”

Wright moved to Portsmouth from Ridge View, Calif., to be closer to family to help with her daughter Aaliyah, 10, and son, Brent, 5. Working with children appealed to her, leading her to apply to Creative World, which recently partnered with TCC for registered apprenticeships.

Today Wright works with the toddlers’ class, facilitating a hands-on curriculum that she also takes an active role in creating. “I want to teach them; I don’t just want to play with them,” she said.

Recently, she introduced counting and colors – the kids have mastered red and have moved on to blue, she said with pride. Wright also completes assessment tracking, which allows the school to evaluate the children’s progress in relation to her teaching strategies.

“I love the idea that I can expand on my own creativity in teaching the children,” she said. “They’re learning from me, but I’m learning a lot from them, too.”

Wright started summer classes online at TCC on June 5 and is working toward her Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development. Eventually, she dreams of opening her own school, an income-based facility that will help other struggling parents like herself.

TCC is seeking early childhood education providers who would be interested in sponsoring a registered apprenticeship. For information, contact Todd Estes, director of the Apprenticeship Institute at or 757-822-1784