Answering a calling

SCC’s early childhood education program prepares students for critical careers

SCC launched its Early Childhood Education program that same year, opening the door for Jones and others in her position to begin their journeys. Now in its second year, 65 students are on their way to beginning careers in education.

SCC Dean of Career and Technical Education Dr. Ashlee Spannagel explained that this program is unique to the state of Iowa.

“Many Iowans lack access to quality childcare, and we’re here to change that,” she explained. “And our education program is already creating compassionate, knowledgeable educators.”

Planners worked with dozens of stakeholders including the Great Prairie AEA, the Iowa Department of Education, childcare providers, and economic developers to ensure the program gives students the skills needed to excel.

The program features two pathways: one for those wanting a career as a childcare provider, the other for those who want to teach. The childcare provider pathway prepares professionals for employment in childcare centers and related service providers. The education pathway provides students the skills needed to take on the roles left by the increasing number of educators who are retiring out of area schools.

“Our childcare workers and teachers need adequate training to fully understand the development of children and their needs,” early childhood education instructor and coordinator Amy Drew said. “Children need a great deal of care and support so they can grow to be strong, caring, well-rounded adults.”

An integral part of each student’s learning experience takes place at the Corse Early Childhood Center in Burlington, where SCC has a dedicated classroom. Nicki Moad, an instructional coach and preschool teacher at Corse, is pleased to have a role in the program.

“It’s exciting that we have SCC in our center. We’re all in one place, making it easy for students.”

The opportunity to observe children in educational and childcare settings early in a student’s career is a key aspect of the program. SCC students are able to gain this experience from the get-go. Students who attend universities to study elementary education typically have to wait for their third or fourth year of schooling before getting the same opportunity.

“I think our time at Corse is my favorite part,” Jones smiled. “Because we’re right there. We get to interact with the kids all the time.”

First-year student Claire Beastrom agreed.

“I really enjoy my observations. Every day is definitely different. Sometimes it’s really crazy, but the kids are lots of fun.”

Originally from Wyoming, Beastrom chose SCC for two reasons—soccer and early childhood education.

“When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to go into early childhood education. I also knew that I wanted to play soccer in college,” she explained. “So while I was looking for schools where I could play soccer, I was also looking into their different education programs. I thought this one was cool because I could get an AAS degree.”

The Childcare Management Pathway is two years in length. Students complete various specialty certificates as they work toward their Associate of Applied Science degree. This enables them to qualify for increasingly more credentialed jobs while they continue down the path to complete college. Once they earn their degree, they can start working as a manager at a childcare facility or even operate their

The Licensure/Transfer Pathway coursework provides students the fundamentals to work with children in an early childhood setting and prepares them to transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree in education.

“We worked hard to make sure this program would be versatile because it’s so critical to our region,” Spannagel said.

Jones, a mother and wife, appreciates the flexibility.

“After SCC, I plan to work as a paraeducator or a substitute teacher so I can financially support my family while I earn my bachelor’s degree online to become a licensed teacher.”

Moad is excited to watch students grow and decide which pathway is right for them.

“Watching students find their own way is exciting. Some may stop after two years, some may go on to get their bachelor’s. These options are great and I look forward
to seeing where our grads go.”

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