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Southern Oregon University

SOU student, UCAN Head Start Child Development Services Manager, wife, mother, grandmother and 4-H leader.

Hello, I am a Southern Oregon University (SOU) student in the Early Childhood Development degree program. I am earning my degree online because I live in Roseburg and work full time. I chose Southern Oregon’s program because the staff are easy to work with, the classes are applicable to what I am doing in real life and I had experienced SOU from a parent’s perspective when my son attended and graduated from there.

I have been working in the field of education for 15 years. I started at UCAN Head Start as a teacher’s assistant in 1995, for several years I worked as an emergency and temporary hire as well as one year I job shared the position with another TA and we both worked part time. During these early years I received a Child Development Associate certificate through the Council for Professional Development. In 2000 I became a regular employee and received a teaching position. Shortly after becoming a teacher I enrolled in the AAS program at Umpqua Community College for Early Childhood Education and graduated with that degree in 2002. In 2005 I became an education supervisor and then two years ago I became the Education Manager. Most of the time can’t imagine working anywhere else, I love my job.

When I returned to school for my AA and now for my BS degree these decisions were both based on requirements from the federal government for Head Start teaching positions. The first requirement was that all Head Start teachers would have an AA degree by 2011. The new requirement is that 50% of teachers and education supervisors nationwide will have a BA degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field with ECE credits by 2013.  Our program has decided that we will meet that requirement by requiring all of our teachers and education supervisors to have a BA/BS degree. Although the requirement is what spurred me to enroll both times I have certainly appreciated the opportunity to further my education. When I went to college the first time, straight out of high school I did not apply myself well to my studies and became a young mother so wasn’t able to finish. Now I find that I enjoy college and learning new information and best practices.

It is hard at times to work full time, be a wife and mother and college student. I have had to become very disciplined. When I was getting my AA degree we still had 6 children at home ranging from a first grader to a high school senior. All of our children were in sports and I was a Camp Fire Boys & Girls Leader and a member of the local Little League Board. I can remember attending basketball games and when my daughter wasn’t playing I would be reading a text book or I would be at UCC between classes and I would be stuffing envelopes to mail out several hundred player registrations! I am lucky to have a very supportive husband. He also works full time but he cooks a lot of dinners and did a lot of coaching and running children around.  I am also a multitasker, I do my homework while my daughter who is still in high school does hers and if necessary I can stop, help her and then go back to mine. I have always believed that we can do whatever we set our mind to. I love my job and wanted to keep it so I decided I would get the degrees, at the same time I love my family and children and determined that I would be as involved in their lives and activities as I could possibly be.  It is true that I don’t get to read for pure enjoyment as much as I would like and I don’t watch a lot of TV but those were things that I was willing to give up. For me it was all about prioritizing. I have learned that no matter how much I dislike something, such as my math class, if I put the time and hard work into it, it will benefit me in the end.

As a teacher I found I was able to use my preschool classroom in my homework assignments - by making games, theme webs, story times – activities that both my students and I benefited from. When I took creative activities the children in my classroom got to do body painting and bungee painting! It was awesome fun. As a supervisor I pass on resources that teachers can access that I learn from my college classes. I researched computers in early childhood as a classroom assignment because I wanted to express to the teachers in my program why we have children’s computers in the classroom. Several of the teachers I supervise are also in the program at SOU and I have seen them improve their centers in the classroom, in having literacy throughout the classroom, their communication skills with parents, and their discipline practices.

I highly recommend an education for anyone desiring to be a teacher. Someone can be a good teacher but without a doubt an education will help them to become a great teacher.