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Directors' Perspective: Improving Teacher Preparation for Early Learning Centers

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As a former early learning center director, I found much satisfaction in watching children develop and learn in their daily experiences. As a director, the goal is to send children off to school with the foundational skills they needed to succeed. Now, as an instructor in the Northwestern State University Gateway Program, I experience similar satisfaction-- but now I am preparing the adults who work with children. Seeing teachers try new activities and express delight in children's progress brings me much gratification.

Having conducted classes for adults working toward the Child Development Associate (CDA) for several years, I feel the Louisiana's new Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate expands and strengthens opportunities for those in the early childhood profession. As part of Believe and Prepare: Early Childhood the NSU Gateway Program strives to provide child care teachers the skills needed to provide high quality care to children throughout North Louisiana. Our program provides teachers several options to obtain their Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate. They can attend face-to-face or online courses that are designed to complement the coaching and onsite support teachers receive.  

Directors who have teachers enrolled in our program tell me about the positive impact this program is having on their teaching staff and center. For example, Charlotte Rogers, director of First Beginnings, recently told us she sees increased enthusiasm in her teaching staff. She said that she shares information about staff working toward the Ancillary Certificate with families.

Cora Pineset, of the Caddo Community Action Agency, said that this program has been a blessing for her teachers. "They have more confidence and self-esteem, use a lot of early childhood terminology, and have learned different ways to engage children." Another director, Susan Lanier, St. Pius X Child Development Center, says that one enrolled teacher has begun making lesson plans ahead of time and another has learned how to provide more options for her one-year-olds to play and explore. Directors have noticed their teachers developing understanding of the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of children throughout developmental stages.

When I hear testimony from the directors supervising our enrolled teachers it reiterates the benefits of this program. Knowledge is the key unlocking each teachers potential for providing the highest level of quality care.

Recently our classes took a "field trip" to SciPort, the children's science museum for hands on experience in preparing for and evaluating field trips for children. When the teachers arrived, they surprised the instructors by wearing matching t-shirts. They were excited about the comradery they share in this common goal of achieving their Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate. One class' shirts had, "We Came, We Conquered" on the front. The other class had, "Believe & Achieve" on theirs. This is what this group of teachers believe will be their success story. They are looking forward to May and are planning a graduation ceremony to celebrate their achievement. I cannot wait to stand and cheer for each and every one as they receive their certificates. Each small success for them is a huge step in ensuring positive outcomes for Louisiana's children. 

Kim Duncan

Child Care Specialist

Northwestern State University Gateways Program

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