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RCCC helps prepare skilled employees for child care

Smart Start Rowan
Daycare workers will be the first to say that they’re not babysitters.
A partnership among Smart Start Rowan, Partners in Learning and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the community college is preparing skilled employees to work with children in the critical developmental ages of birth to 5 years.
On May 14, Laura Medford and her daughter, Heather, graduated from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College with associate’s degrees in early childhood education. Both completed internships at Partners in Learning. Laura now works part-time there in the afterschool program. Heather hopes to continue her education in nursing when she moves to Texas next month. Her fiancée, whom she’ll marry June 24, is stationed there, serving in the Air Force.
RCCC offers certification, a diploma or a degree in its early childhood education program.
“So we have stepping stones for our folks,” says Sandra Novick, who directs the program.
She explains that any employee who cares for children in a licensed facility must have early childhood credentials.
“We get a lot of folks coming in for that course and that course only,” she says. “We want to whet their appetite for further learning.”
When Novick was raising her four children, she took a workshop when she got a part-time job at a nursery school.
“I was in awe in that first workshop,” she says, because even though she was a mom, she still learned a lot about small children.
Novick notes that some 300 students are served each semester, and that 54 students received their degrees at the recent graduation.
Laura and Heather were two of those students.
Laura worked for Hanes for 28 years before the facility closed. She had the chance to go back to school, and enrolled at RCCC.
“The teachers were amazing,” she says. Through her internship with Partners in Learning, she found she most loved working with older children and she loved crafts, too. The afterschool program turned out to be a perfect fit for her.
“It’s like a family here,” she says. “You can just feel the good environment when you walk in. Everyone is so friendly.”
Heather began babysitting in high school and found she loved it. She became a certified nursing assistant and wants to further her education to work with special needs children.
“The teachers at RCCC are wonderful,” she says. “They’re so supportive. They’re your mentors and friends. You could go to them about anything.”
Novick calls both women “excellent, excellent students, with an exceptional quality of work. We are proud that they graduated at the same time.”
She adds, “You cannot go into this field for the money. The first five years molds a child for life. Children need to know their ABCs, but we need to do it in a way that’s developmentally appropriate.”
Partners in Learning is one of several centers that provides internships for students. Smart Start Rowan has information about the community college’s early childhood education programs. Personnel serve on one another’s boards, and Smart Start Rowan has hosted workshops and classes for students to take.
“We have been together a long time,” Novick says. “It’s very important that we understand what is going on in the community and what the community needs.”
Norma Honeycutt, director of Partners in Learning, agrees.
“Book knowledge is extremely important, but without internship experience, it’s hard to see how what you learn in the book can be put into action,” she says. “We have high standards. We are a 5-star and nationally accredited facility, and students see our teachers model that behavior.
“We have worked with RCCC for years, and we have hired quite a few RCCC students as a result of their internship experiences here.”

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