Passionate NOVA Student Strives to Become Better Teacher For Her Community

February 16, 2024

In celebration of Black History Month, NOVA highlights Milka Tedla. She is a loving mother, a determined NOVA student and a dedicated teacher of very young children. 

Portrait of Milka Tedla

Milka understands the vital role that early childhood educators play in children’s lives. Indeed, a skilled teacher like Milka, who is specially trained to set the foundation for her small students’ future success, can truly have a lifelong impact. 

For Milka, teaching is an extension of her heart. She treats the children in her classroom as if they were her own, and she’s working hard to improve her teaching skills by pursuing higher education. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.  
My name is Milka Tedla, and I am originally from Asmara, Eritrea, in East Africa. I married my handsome husband 17 years ago, and we have three beautiful children. We came to the U.S. in September 2012 with our two sons; our third child, a daughter, was born here. My sons are 16 and 12, and my daughter is 8.  

As a mother, wife and sister, I am so blessed to have a loving family that supports my goals and dreams. My passion is teaching children! 

What brought you to NOVA?  
About eight years ago, I realized my dream when I began working as an Early Head Start teacher and then as a Head Start teacher at Gum Springs Glen in Fairfax County. Teaching incredibly young children is my calling. And even though I’ve had a lot of training, I want to learn more. That’s what brought me to NOVA. 

What are you studying at NOVA? 
I enrolled at NOVA in 2018 to learn English. In Fall 2022, I began studying early childhood education. I am working toward earning my associate degree and then hopefully my bachelor’s, both in early childhood education. 

When a child starts to grow, they grow from the root, like a tree. A tree needs water and minerals to have a strong root and to bear fruit. In that same way, we must nurture our children with love and support them mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically and cognitively. Such support can take them to the next developmental milestone, and we help shape a healthy citizen for the next generation. 

Working with children is not easy, but it starts from your heart. The theoretical, practical and firsthand knowledge has set me up for success, and now I’m working to gain new knowledge. I’ve made considerable progress in my career, and now I can benefit my community. 

Tell us about your experience at NOVA (i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met). 
I am grateful for Professor Bernice Mayfield and her early childhood development classes. I especially loved CHD-146, where we all were from different backgrounds. Even so, Professor Mayfield made her classroom environment so open that everyone felt comfortable sharing their stories and talking about their cultures. I was amazed to hear and learn from each student. That experience helped us get to know each other. We see our differences; but when we look at them another way, we are all the same. Our only differences are our skin color and our cultures. That is what I learned. 

NOVA provided us with in-person, virtual and online classes. These choices have given me a chance to spend time with my children while also doing my studies. My in-person classes brought wonderful face-to-face experiences with faculty and my peers, who encouraged me to succeed. So far, I have been honored to be on the Dean’s List three times: in Fall 2023, Fall 2022 and Summer 2022. 

I also want to share my experience and what I’ve received from NOVA. We — students and faculty — are bound together like family. To me, it is a privilege to be at NOVA. 

I have also made friends with people who share my interests, and we learn from both our differences and our similarities in our beliefs and values. We celebrate and embrace our diversity.  

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 
I see myself graduating from NOVA soon, then transferring to a university to get my bachelor’s degree in education. To be a successful educator and author, I must share my knowledge with those who have a desire to learn and grow. Then I will work hard to get a better job and earn the best income I can to help my family. 

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