Kids love ‘Mr. T!’: Vogelweh provider takes top childcare honors

Airman 1st Class Melissa Maraj
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Tyrone Dukes, room leader of 3- to 5- year-olds at the Vogelweh Child Development Center recently received high honors for his innovative and caring work.
Affectionately known as “Mr. T,” he was awarded both the Vogelweh CDC Childcare Giver of the Year and the The National Scholastic Childhood Professional Award.
Mr. T has not only accomplished a great feat by being the best in his field, but he is also the first known male to obtain this recognition at this location, said Stacey Compton, Vogelweh Child Development Center assistant director.
Besides being especially dedicated to his class, Mr. Duke’s appearance is another part of his personality that makes him unique and special to both children and parents. Dressed in bright colors, decorated with silver chains, braids and tattoos, he offers a different edge to the model of what most would expect from a childcare provider.
“When you walk into the room, you can feel that something different is happening,” he said. “The boys really like the style and the girls like that I’m down to earth.”
Encouraging the children to develop independence and trust is an important aspect of Mr. T’s work.
“The parents see that their children are progressing in my room and they let me know they appreciate it,” he said.
“The biggest thing about Tyrone is that he is one of a very few males in his field,” said Mrs. Compton. “Since day one, he has been amazing.”
Parents have also expressed their gratitude for Mr. T’s work at the CDC.
“Mr. T brings a real sense of fatherhood into a career field that generally has more ‘mother figures,’” said Airman 1st Class Greg Nation, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, C-130 aircraft technician and parent. “He is a strong leader and very knowledgeable about his job.”
According to CDC staff, his accomplishments and recognition come as a direct result of Mr. T’s determination to accomplish his personal goals.
“He accepts the challenges of this field and any challenge that you give him with a great amount of zeal,” added Mrs. Compton.
Described by Mrs. Compton as being gifted in his work with children and being an instrumental part of the staff, Mr. Dukes is also attributed with high staff retention in the program.
“He attended USAFE training held at Ramstein and is now a staff mentor for the new staff,” said Mrs. Compton. “He is truly an indispensable member of the staff.”
Candidates for the childcare giver award are first nominated by parents and then subsequently selected as a winner by members of the Parent Advisory Board. The winner then receives a letter of appreciation from the wing commander and is given the chance to compete at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Force level.
The Scholastic award honors outstanding early childhood professionals based on their demonstrated commitment to continued education and enhancement of his or her own professional skills.
Mr. Dukes credits his wife Ashley and daughter Jasmine with providing the support needed to do a job well done. “I couldn’t do it without my family,” he said.
“The management and staff at the CDC have really believed in me and that means a lot,” said Mr. T. “I also have great assistants and I couldn’t do it without the help of Kira Green and Cassy Merjil.”
When asked what he believes set him apart as a candidate, he said “I was meant to do this job. I don’t have to change to impress. I believe in working hard for what I want, and most importantly, I believe in myself.”
Mr. Dukes started as an assistant at the CDC, but hopes to become a child counselor some day.