In April, we awarded our 2015 Excellence in Action Awards to nine programs of study from across the country in secondary and postsecondary education. These programs of study were selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to stimulating student learning, offering extensive work-based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success. We will feature a monthly blog post highlighting each award winner.
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at Henderson County High School (HCHS) in Henderson, Kentucky began in 1970 and has expanded dramatically in the past 10 years to address the complex social and economic issues that individuals, families and communities currently face. By the time students graduate, they have the opportunity to earn multiple certifications and up to nine college credits, and have gained a year of internship experience in a preschool classroom, truly preparing them for their next step be it postsecondary education or the workplace.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE AND CAREERS
A key component to the ECE program of study is the delivery of state-required and nationally-recognized credentials. These credentials are vital in a child care career and are a stepping stone for students who plan to pursue the ECE pathway post-graduation. ECE offers up to five certifications and educator Emily Johnston was the first Family Consumer Science teacher in Kentucky to obtain the Early Care and Education Trainer’s Credential so that she could teach and award the certification to her students without having to hire additional staff.
Through a partnership with Henderson Community College, students receive articulated credit upon completion of the third course in the program of study, which is equivalent to the first course in the college sequence. And, students who earn a CDA credential receive nine college credits at any institution in the Kentucky Community Technical College System in the field of ECE.
As part of their third (articulated) course – Child Development Services II – students are also expected to complete 180 hours of work-based learning and a capstone project.
The ECE program has built an incredible array of highly engaged partners at the local and state levels. Employers like the Little Stars Child Care, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center and Riverview School provide work-based learning opportunities in the community. From its inception, the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center was designed to incorporate the ECE program at Henderson County High School, where students take a nine-week training course and work in the preschool classroom to gain daily, hands-on experience.
Little Colonels Daycare, located at HCHS, offers students in grades 9-11 hands-on experience one day per week. This gives students the opportunity to learn how children develop from ages 0-3 and gain workplace readiness skills to prepare them for their senior year, off-site work-based learning requirement.
Additionally, HCHS has a strong relationship with the University of Kentucky Quality Enhancement Initiative, which provides higher educational opportunities for students post-graduation and funding for the Commonwealth Child Care Credential (CCCC) and the CDA for students who stay in the ECE field.
Through stellar partnerships and a commitment to providing students with opportunities to participate in work-based learning experiences, 100 percent of students graduated high school, 18 percent earned an industry-recognized credential and 68 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. Additionally, lead teacher in the program, Emily Johnston, was recently named Teacher of the Year in Henderson County, Kentucky.
All awardees were honored at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Henderson County High School’s Early Childhood Education program here.
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate