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Situated in New York City, this qualitative case study investigates nontraditional teachers, particularly immigrant women of color, and their diverse pathways into early childhood classrooms. Against the backdrop of the city’s expansion of public preschool programs and its efforts to ensure high quality through narrowly defined measures of professionalization for the early childhood workforce, I traced the lived experiences of nontraditional immigrant women of color, their becoming teachers of young children, and the ways in which their funds of knowledge shape their teaching practice. Findings reveal that although nontraditional immigrant women of color enter teaching with unique and valuable life experiences, they face many challenges in the changing landscape of early childhood education. Implications point towards the importance of cultivating a more diverse teaching force and supporting teachers’ development through culturally responsive and sustaining ways that honor the wealth of knowledge they bring to the benefit of young children and their families, especially those with diverse cultural backgrounds.

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Early Childhood Education