There’s a new way for early childhood educators to learn the skills, knowledge and dispositions needed to care for and educate our youngest children. It’s called the Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program, and First Start Partnerships for Children and Families and Shippensburg University our piloting this program with our very own Classroom Support Staff.
Think about other professions that have apprenticeship programs, such as barbers, health care professionals, plumbers, electricians. Apprenticeship programs have that unique combination of “textbook” learning and “on the job learning” – or using what you are learning “in class” to improve your practice.
All this is done under the supportive, observant eyes of a “coach” – someone who has already demonstrated those skills, knowledge and dispositions and is ready to help others to do the same.
Our Classroom Support Staff are participating in the Child Development Associate (CDA) Apprenticeship. Shannon Rudy, from Shippensburg University, is teaching three courses this year for our staff using high quality on-line courses developed through the EarlyEdU Alliance at the University of Washington, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Office of Head Start.
Each Classroom Support Staff has their own Coach, trained by FirstUp and supported by Liz Knouse at Shippensburg University. Coaches support staff members, and observe their practice using competencies from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
A key element of any apprenticeship is incremental salary increases, and our staff will receive those increases as they achieve each milestone in the program.
All this creates a great professional development system, that supports our staff in providing the highest quality care and education. It is something new – and we are developing new systems with support from 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, who began a similar program in 2016.
Melisa Ostrowski is coordinating all of this newness, and helping us develop systems that we can then share with other early childhood programs in our region and the state.
We want to thank our Apprentices and Coaches who are piloting this program, as well as Shippensburg University, First Up, and 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund.
Coaches: Sharon Kreigline, Heather Dickey, Peggy Potter, Sherrie Carr, Abigail Denkovich, Kasondra Koontz, Tam Brocious, Laura Torres and Emily Maiorana.
Apprentices: Tammey Hayes, Bernadette Selman, LaShell Galloway, Nancy Dupont, Wendy McClure, Birttany Oyler, Adrienne Wachter, Regina Carbaugh
A special thank you to Dr. Jennifer Pyles at Shippensburg University who is courageously leading us on this journey. Once this phase is underway, we plan to partner with Shippensburg University again to provide associate and bachelor degree apprenticeship programs as well.

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