Hart District students ‘test drive’ education careers

Gina Peterson, faculty with COC's Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, catches a rubber apple during an introduction exercise with Hart district students on a field trip to learn about the early childhood education career pathway on Friday, March 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

On Friday, students in the William S. Hart Union High School District’s Education Pathway program visited College of the Canyon’s (COC) Valencia campus to learn more about their futures in the education field.

During the all-day field trip, the students toured the college’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) building and COC’s campus, heard about resources available to future educators, discussed required credentials and learned about different career opportunities.

“For these students, they’ll know by the end of high school ‘do I want to go into the field of education or not,’” said Renee Marshall, COC’s TEACH director and an ECE faculty member.  “It’s nice because it gives them a change to test drive teaching and it gives them the idea that education has a lot of opportunity.”

The Education Pathway partnership between COC and the Hart District gives students the opportunity to take classes for college credit and gain real-world experience in the classroom.

“Starting in fall we’re going to have dual-enrollment classes where these students are going to be able to enroll in a class at the Golden Valley High School campus that they’re going to get college credit for,” Marshall said.

Students in the Education Pathway program will also have the opportunity to take four courses at COC that include an introduction to childhood development class, an afterschool recreation class and a K-12 introduction to teaching class.

Marshall said these courses will allow students to receive their Early Childhood Development Certification and complete field work in the classroom.

Students also have the opportunity to work in the Sulphur Springs Union School District’s afterschool ACES program and engage with students during events like the Literacy and Arts Festival, the SCV Arts Festival and the Day of the Young Child.

“The more that they get experience the better, but also the more networking they do then it can lead to future positions and a career rather than a job,” Marshall said.  “A career is what you like to do and you feel like you’re making a difference.”

During the field trip, TEACH and ECE staff and students in COC’s Future Educators Club spoke to students about what the ECE program looks like and what networking opportunities are available for them.

Gina Peterson, faculty with COC’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, talks with Hart district students about choosing the ECE career pathway during a field trip on Friday, March 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“This field has so much potential,” said Gina Peterson, co-advisor for Future Educators Club and an ECE faculty member.  “One great thing about education classes is that we have so many adult returners, even if you’re not going to be a teacher these classes prepare you for parenthood too.”

Ashley Hernandez, a senior at Golden Valley High School, said she plans on attending COC to become a preschool teacher.

“Since I come from a large family there are a lot of little kids running around,” she said.  “I want to know how a kid learns.”

Sierra Proulx, a senior at Saugus High School who wants to teach students in kindergarten to second grade, said she wanted to learn more about how to gain practical classroom experience.

“I hope to learn how to get opportunities in the classroom before graduation,” she said.

Later in the day, the Education Pathway program students heard from Josh Randall, assistant superintendent of personnel for the Sulphur Springs Union School District, about what jobs are available to them as high school students, college students and adults.

“We want them to know that we’re investing in them because we want them to come back and invest in our community,” Marshall said.  “That is what we are finding is one of our very best models because not only do they come back, but then they stay longer and their level of commitment is deeper.”

Marshall hopes the day inspired students to pursue a career that she has known and loved for 27 years.

“Even on your worst day, you walk into a classroom and have a kid walk up to you and now it is the best day ever,” she said.  “I have never had a day where I regretted my career.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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