Payton and Maddie: A case study

sixpence lincoln, bryan community focus high school, early childhood education nebraska

17-year-old Payton and her 3-year-old daugher Payton take a moment to talk in the childcare center at the Bryan Community Focus Program

Payton and Maddie participate in the Bryan Community Focus Program at Hawthorne. This alternative high school program is funded by the Sixpence Early Learning Fund, and allows teenage mothers to finish high school, while providing their babies with high quality early childhood education experiences, designed to prepare them to enter kindergarten on even footing with their peers.

The situation

Payton was 14 when she became a mother to Madyson. Just a freshman in high school, she had no idea what to do. She heard about the Bryan Focus Program at Hawthorne through her own high school, and with the support of her parents, decided to make the switch.

The program

At the Bryan Focus Program, Payton attended regular high school classes while Maddie was right down the hall in the school’s high-quality child care facility. Payton has liked having her little one so close. “If there’s an issue of or she’s having a bad day and wants her mom, I can just come down and see her,” said Payton.

Payton has attended mandatory parenting classes, interacted with Maddie throughout the day, and participated in voluntary home visits. She has been in the program since the second semester of her freshman year. “This daycare gives me a lot of hope,” said Payton “because they work with you so you’re able to continue to attend school.”

In her parenting classes, Payton says there has been a lot to learn, because as a teenager, she really knew nothing about a child’s development and how to help her daughter learn. She says the most important thing she’s learned is that, “We really need to be aware of our child’s emotions, and acknowledge them and let them know that it’s OK.”

The complication

Payton struggled with being a mother so young. “We did a lot of intervention with her and her parents,” said Monica Asher, head of the Bryan Community Focus program for young parents.


Eventually, with the support of her parents and the program, Payton got back on track.  She is now 17,  in school, clean and about to graduate. Her grade point average is a perfect 4.o and she is very proud to be a straight A student. “She is extremely bright,” Monica said of Payton, “She is going to do big things.” Once she graduates, Payton plans to go to Southeast Community College to study criminal justice. Her grades qualify her for a four-year university, but Payton feels that starting with SCC will better allow her to be a good mother to Maddie.

early childhood education nebraska, bryan community high school

Payton showing Maddie how to finger paint, while one of the center’s para-educator supports the interaction


Payton is intensely focused on her child and her future. Maddie is now three, and thriving in the Bryan child-care center. She is a smart, happy, healthy little girl, and she and Payton have a wonderful relationship. 

This young mother is very proud of her daughter. She loves taking  Maddie out and showing her off because she’s so polite and well behaved. She bragged that Maddie could say the alphabet by the time she was 2 and can count to 10 in Spanish.

“She’s a very smart girl,” said Payton when talking about Maddie. “She’s kind and she likes to share. And that’s because we work with her on that.”

Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

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Posted in Early Childhood

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