by Joy McCall, Enhanced Family Child Care Coach
Where do I begin to tell you about my Early Childhood Education journey without aging myself? We all know that women and talking about age is not the way to start any conversation…
THE EARLY CHILDHOOD JOURNEY BEGINS
My journey in the field of Early Childhood Education started back in high school. I completed the Early Childhood program at Warren Central and worked for the preschool part-time after school. I enjoyed being with the children and watching their little faces light up when the light bulb came on.
A SHORT DETOUR
I was then off to college for what I thought was a degree in Elementary Education. Boy, was I wrong. I started the pre-requirement classes for my major, but they then put me in Intro to Music Appreciation class. This, for a tone deaf person that has never read a note in her life, was the beginning of the end for me. I struggled through the class and changed my major at that point. I knew my calling was to work with children and make a difference in their lives. So, that led me to majoring in Social Work. I loved the ability to still work in the field of Early Childhood Education during my process. During my time in college, I got married and had my son. He was three-months old at graduation.
MOVING UP THE LADDER
After I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I accepted a position as an assistant director at a licensed facility. I had been working part-time there as an infant caregiver and was eager to “move up the ladder” so-to-speak. In addition, administrators did not have to pay for child care. That was a huge expense I was relieved not to have. It was kind of like an extra pay check in the grand scheme of things. I really enjoyed working as the assistant director. When my director switched jobs, I was more than happy to take over as director, although I was losing my mentor. I needed the change and advancement in my life.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING AND MENTORS
Advancing in my career also meant I would need additional education to meet the requirements by the state. I started taking Child Development Associate (CDA) credential classes online while working as the director. I completed three Early Childhood Education classes and really felt like this was the right fit for me. Yes, the social work aspect was still a part of my career, and I could work with children and families. So, I did that for about three years before I started searching for something more. By that, I mean I wanted to better myself both personally and professionally.
My mentor and friend never left me and always encouraged me to move up in my career. It was hard leaving my staff and families, but knew I could make a bigger impact growing into a new director position for Day Nursery. They were a Level 4 Paths to QUALITY program and NAEYC accredited. Man, I had no clue how big of a change it would be and how much I would continue to grow. Going through NAEYC accreditation with no previous experience proved to be challenging, but meeting the standards and passing was a great accomplishment.
During my time as a director for Day Nursery, I took the opportunity to complete my Director’s Credential at the University of Southern Indiana. This program was great, and I could still work full time. The course actually related to my day-to-day job too. To this day, I go back and use some of the notes I took to help my providers. I remained the director at Day Nursery for six years. The company had experienced many changes, and I felt as if I had outgrown the position. I loved my families and staff, but felt like I could make a bigger impact by working as a Paths to QUALITY coach.
FINDING A HOME AT CHILD CARE ANSWERS
Becoming a Paths to QUALITY coach allowed me to help other providers improve their programs for higher quality and my personal impact would help many more children. I loved the change – it opened so many doors for me to grow personally and professionally. At that point, I had never stepped foot in a family child care home or ministry before that position. I met so many great people and saw how important my position was in helping providers give children the best start in high quality programs.
After two years as a Paths to QUALITY Coach, I was offered a position partnering with the United Way of Central Indiana as an Enhanced Family Child Care Coaching Specialist. A mouth-full, right? I have served in this position for five months now, and I really enjoy the partnership with United Way along with now helping providers from beginning. I have learned so much over these months, including building relationships with licensing consultants and seeing the process providers go through to become licensed and then signing on to Paths to QUALITY.
When I was 16-years old sitting in the Early Childhood program at Warren Central, you could not have told me I would be in the position that I am in today. I have had an interesting journey in this field and look forward to continuing my education and career in Early Childhood Education.