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Early Childhood Education Scholarship, Partnerships with Childcare Centers is Helping John A. Logan College Address a Teaching Shortage in Southern Illinois

Published on December 15, 2023

Marilyn Toliver

If you pass Dr. Marilyn Toliver on the John A. Logan Campus, don’t be alarmed if you cannot tell if she is coming or going. Thanks to an Early Childhood Education Grant that is providing scholarships to help with a teacher shortage, the longtime JALC Professor is in a constant pattern of either teaching, advising, or evaluating students in her growing program that is helping fill the immediate need for teachers in southern Illinois.

Toliver recently met with area childcare center directors to discuss the need for certified teachers and how they can work together to meet the need.

According to Toliver, John A. Logan College’s Early Childhood Education program covers the 15 most southern counties in southern Illinois. She added that the state of Illinois recognized the need for qualified teachers at daycare centers and last year awarded a scholarship program to help meet the demand.

“We do not have enough teachers at any level, but we are definitely short of teachers at childcare centers and HeadStart Program,” said Toliver. “There was a high demand for teachers in these centers that were not being fielded. The grant and scholarship programs were put in place to take incumbent workers that were assistants to get them certified to be lead teachers.”

Toliver added that the one reason the demand has increased is that children from birth to five years old are affected by the COVID-19 years.

“We desperately need qualified instructors to work with our most vulnerable population. These years (birth to five) are the most important developmentally, both intellectually and socially, and we are seeing more and more children diagnosed with special needs, and we desperately need teachers trained to deal with those issues,” said Toliver.

Students receiving the grant, which covers all costs to attend plus other reimbursements, are incumbent workers already employed at a center.  John A. Logan College is offering the courses online, and they are working under a certified teacher who helps both Toliver with evaluations and the student with time management. 

“I told the directors that the partnership between them and the College is essential to solving this shortage,” said Toliver. “I am grateful for their partnership because they have been very open to doing what is needed to get their employees trained.”

Toliver is waiting for an update on the future of the grant and assistance to students currently in the program.

“The state has been very supportive so far, but we need this to continue to address the shortage and encourage childcare workers to continue their education and advance their careers.”

For more information about the Early Childhood Education Program at John A. Logan College, contact Dr. Marilyn Toliver at