ESD offering early childhood education training

January 6, 2023

Hailey Perez works on a memory game using homemade silly putty.

ESD offering early childhood education training

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press.

Student Cheyenne Fuller discusses her ideal classroom.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

AMBER TOWNSHIP (Mason County) — In an effort to increase the availability of early childhood professionals in the area, the West Shore Educational Service District recently began offering a child development associate certificate (CDA) class. The class, taught by Angela Taylor and Brenda Vronko, began on Oct. 4, 2022 and will conclude on April 25, 2023. It meets every Tuesday for three hours and currently includes three students.

Taylor is director of state and federal programs and early childhood at Mason County Central Schools. Vronko is an early childhood supervisor and specialist at the ESD.

Vronko said the idea for the course came from the ESD’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) advisory committee, which saw a need for alternative educational pathways and training methods for early childhood professionals locally.

“Early childhood development is such an important step in a child’s education,” Taylor said. “We saw an immediate need to train individuals who want to make a difference so we decided to offer the CDA course in a manner that supported those working already in the field and wanting to earn that additional certification. This model truly caters to the busy schedules of our students.”

There are currently three students in the 30 week course. Each student is currently working at a local early childhood center.

“We have an abundance of talent right here in our area and Brenda and I are able to build those internal connections” Taylor said. “In the past, we’ve had students who only needed or wanted a CDA who had to drive to Muskegon. That’s a long way to go and a long time away from family, especially for someone who is working full time.”

Vronko said there are other options available locally for those who want to go beyond the CDA certification. She said West Shore Community College offers an associate degree and bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, which is a direction she would recommend for those students wanting to continue on their educational journeys.

Instructor Angela Taylor gives instructions in making homemade silly putty.

“This has been an exciting experience to see all three of these students learning and putting to practice the skills they learn here in class,” Taylor said. “Naturally, a lot of the conversations that take place here in the class are from the students’ real life experiences, which has been an advantage to them working in the field.”

Each of the students said they have benefited from the class.

“I started working in early childhood development in the fall at Victory Early Childhood Center,” said Cheyenne Fuller. “This course has really introduced me to a lot of great teaching methods.”

The CDA curriculum teaches various subject areas including supporting children’s social and emotional development, building productive relationships with families, managing an effective program, maintaining a commitment to professionalism, observing and recording children’s behavior, and understanding principles of child development and learning.

One of the capstones of the course is the development of a professional portfolio, which includes a reflection of the student’s professional development experience.

Vronko said local presenters from area agencies have been used to enhance the class along with building connections to our community resources: Michigan State University Extension Services, Mason County Emergency Management, Early On and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, among others.

The course requires 120 hours of formal training and 480 hours of work experience in the setting the student is applying for.

At the end of the course, students will be required to take a state certification exam which includes a verification visit and a written examination. The certification is valid for three years and then must be renewed through accumulation of continuing education credits which include working in the field.

This is the first year the course is being offered through the ESD. Potential students who are interested in a future course or possible open positions in the field are encouraged to contact Taylor or Vronko.

Brenda Vronko:; 231-898-1545

Angela Taylor:; 231-757-3713, ext. 131

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