“Nevertheless, She Persisted”
Like most women, Angela Barnes babysat a lot of kids when she was young, and along the way, she discovered that she had had a knack for caring for them. But it wasn’t until a life-altering accident changed her family dynamic that she found herself in the field of childcare, realizing soon afterward that early childhood education was the career path she wanted to pursue.
Not long after her husband suffered an accident and some health issues several years ago, Angela and her young family relocated to Virginia from Pennsylvania, and suddenly, she found herself in a new role: assisting in her family’s financial stability. Her husband had sustained some injuries and health issues that rendered him disabled, so he retired from his job and stayed home to care for their children while Angela got a job at a local daycare center.
Eventually, Angela and her family would be introduced to the local Head Start program. At first, she became involved in the center as a parent—sending her young daughter to the center, and then getting a job as a teaching assistant and bus monitor at the center. It was during her time as a teaching assistant that she felt a desire to return to school to earn the credentials needed to become a lead teacher at Head Start. She enrolled at Danville Community College and enjoyed the flexibility the course schedule offered so that she could continue to work full time while in school and still take care of her family.
Perseverance is a word that comes up often throughout Angela’s story, but it does little to describe her strength of will and drive. She and her family had already survived a life-changing incident, but her fortitude and resilience would be tested yet again when they learned her husband was terminally ill. Going to school and working full time while balancing family duties is challenging enough, on top of all this, Angela was spending time in and out of the hospital caring for her sick husband. For most people, this would be reason enough to quit, or put the rest of their lives on hold—after all, there’s only so much one person can take on at a time. But for Angela, a self-described spiritual person, she persevered.
“It was difficult, but I had people around to help me and continued to pray for guidance. I truly believe that God had my back and put people in place to help me,” she says about this trying time in her life. While it would be reasonable and understandable for anyone to take a pause on their education and career at this time, Angela was very much aware of the impressionable eyes watching her. It was a teachable moment, and she knew her children would carry the lesson with them for the rest of their lives. “I want my children to be proud of my accomplishments, and I want to be a positive role model.”
And that she is. Through each trying event, Angela persevered through it all. First, she went back to school at the same time she found herself as the major support system for their family after her husband’s accident and illness became more challenging to deal with. Then she went on to complete her bachelor’s degree at Averett while her husband was sick. All along the way, Angela was determined to show her children and herself that anything is possible through hard work, determination, and much prayer. Angela’s husband passed away in 2008, and while he may not have gotten to see her complete her bachelor’s degree and go on to earn her master’s, eventually becoming a Head Start Director, he would undoubtedly swell with pride at her accomplishments.
Reflecting upon her experience, she recalls her time at Danville as the stepping stone that “opened the doors even more for me. There were a lot of people at DCC that really guided me along the way.” Angela will be celebrating her 20th anniversary with Head Start in September 2018.