Story by Senior Airman Joseph Raatz, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — Tameko Thomas, known to many as Ms. T., is dedicated to the education and development of military children and to providing their families with a much-needed support system, something she’s been doing for more than 17 years.
As the new director of Barksdale’s Child Development Center, she’ll get the chance to do it on a larger scale than ever before.
Second Bomb Wing Public Affairs recently sat down with Ms. T., to discuss her background and her plans for the CDC.
Q: How is caring for military children different from other children? Why is their care and development so important to you?
A: Military children are unique because of their parents and that family dynamic. They move around so frequently and their parents are often gone, and it’s our responsibility to make sure these children have access to quality care while their parents fulfill their duty obligations. We can’t afford to let the children of military families miss a beat or fall behind just because they’re victims of consequences beyond their control; we owe them more than that.
Q: What kind of background do you have in childcare?
A: I’ve been involved with caring for military children and their families for over 17 years, starting at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I’ve been everything from a recreation assistant, to a training and curriculum specialist, school-age and team coordinator, to being the CDC director at Osan Air Base, Korea, and now here at Barksdale. I started without a degree, but throughout the years and all the moves, I got an associate degree in early childhood education, then earned a bachelor’s degree in family life education and finally finished up with a master’s degree in early childhood education.
Q: How do you like living here at Barksdale?
A: I’ve only been here a month, but so far I like it just fine. I’m originally from New Orleans, and this is actually the first time in 20 years that I’ve lived anywhere within 10 hours of home. I just came from Korea, which couldn’t be further away. So it’s nice being here where I’m closer to family.
Q: What is your first order of business now that you’ve taken over as director of Barksdale’s Child Development Center?
A: The number one thing on my list is ensuring the professionalism and communication skills of my staff. The curriculum here is great, and the staff is very capable when it comes to the children, but I need to make sure that quality extends to their interactions with parents and other staff members. Having that locked down makes everything run more smoothly and makes for a better work environment.
Q: Do you have any plans or programs in mind that you’d like to see instituted here at the CDC?
A: One thing I’d really like to get rolling here is better communication of what it is we do and a higher level of parent involvement. Coming from other bases, I’m used to having the kids do fashion shows, coming in in crazy costumes and things for Wacky Fridays, and things like that. But to do that we need more transparency in how we do things here, a better communication plan with parents and the community to raise that support and involvement.
Q: What advice would you give to parents of young children?
A: The best advice I can give is to just listen and observe. No matter what your kids are doing, they’re trying to tell you something through their words or actions, and it’s vital that you listen.