Like some of you, I was in a career I didn’t enjoy. I found the work unfulfilling and the environment toxic. Some days, my husband had to push me out of the house to go to work. So, I began thinking about changing careers. After some self-reflection, talking to a counsellor, and observing the teachers at our daughter’s daycare, I realized that I was drawn to the field of early childhood education. Watching educators develop and build the connections between students and teachers was a joy for me to see. I also saw how invested they became in the children and how much they cared for them. That was something I felt I needed in my own life.
At this time in my life, I was very big about “following my gut instincts”, and when I spoke to my Stenberg Program Advisor, Ashley, I knew it was the beginning of the change I needed. So, I enrolled in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at Stenberg College.
My first day in class was a big day for me. I met an amazing group of classmates who are still a part of my support network and a few of those ladies are now like family. I still remember wondering who was going to be leading us for the next eleven months when our instructor, Pat Bates, walked in and introduced herself. I knew at that moment that I really was on the correct path to changing me. I remember Pat introducing us to some music and movement activities, which were so much fun and so completely different from my previous career! I loved it!
During our time in the classroom, we covered a variety of topics including child development, curriculum courses, guiding and caring, and family teacher relations, which I found interesting and enjoyable. We were encouraged to be creative and thorough with our projects, which made it fun. The thought of “being creative” terrified me in the beginning, since creativity wasn’t encouraged in my previous career. But once I learned that children want something fun and new, creativity wasn’t as scary as I once thought. The nine months in class time went fast. We learned so much and participated in fun activities, field trips, and observation times in the field.
I enjoyed my time at Stenberg. The campus life activities that happened throughout the year helped create a community atmosphere. There were many team building activities like building gingerbread houses at Christmas, making canned goods sculptures to help food banks, and creating the donation baskets for the Christmas bureau. They also had days where we wore certain colours to school such as Pink Shirt Day for anti-bullying and there were many contests throughout the year, such as the calendar photo entry.
In our tenth month, we went on practicum. I had my two practicum sites set up and I knew what was expected of me while on practicum as a practicum student and as a Stenberg ambassador. I was also aware that most ECE Stenberg students received offers of employment from their host sites, so I wanted to impress them.
During my first practicum, I learned so much about working as part of a team in a childcare centre. I found how trust, teamwork, and communication are vital for the success of a classroom. At the first practicum site, I was only getting my feet wet in the field of Early Childhood Education but during my second practicum site, I truly felt comfortable in the classroom. I liked it because I knew what the Center was expecting from me —they gave me feedback every day and I was viewed as a member of the team. At the end of my second practicum, I was lucky enough to receive employment offers from both sites. I chose the second site for employment.
While I was finishing my second practicum, I received a phone call from Pat. She informed me that I was nominated for Student of the Year, which is an award Stenberg gives to a student who displays the characteristics of leadership, attitude, community service, spirit, and academic excellence. Pat told me that she was proud of my accomplishments and how I carried myself through the program. I felt very honoured to have Pat and Stenberg recognize me.
During my time as a Stenberg student, I found that I came into the field prepared for my new career. When I was working full-time in a center, I realized I wanted more. I knew I was making a difference in the lives of my students and their families but how could I make a difference on a bigger scale in the Early Childhood Education field? By becoming an instructor and practicum monitor for Stenberg. This allows me to help the field gain new, energetic, and enthusiastic Early Childhood Educators to make a difference in the lives of more children.