Sylvana Coccimiglio, Director, Oppenheim Family Children’s Center at Keystone College
The Oppenheim Family Children’s Center at Keystone College participates in the pre-apprentice program. We work with students from different school districts, and they are paired with a staff member to coach them in acquiring on-the-job competencies. During their time at the Center, they will achieve skills that will help them gain employment in an early childhood program. We enjoy seeing students gain confidence in working with preschoolers. Pre-apprentices are very helpful in the classroom, and the children love working with individuals who assisted their teacher. Pre-apprentices are able to build relationships with the younger children. The experiences and skills that the pre-apprentices have gained are motivators for continuing to pursue a degree in early childhood education.”
Director of Special Education at Lackawanna Trail School District
My name is Amie Talerico. I’m a school administrator at the Lackawanna Trail School District; I’m the Director of Special Education. I had been looking for students to do job shadowing and other training in the Oppenheim Family Children’s Center at Keystone College. We ended up switching gears and applying for the pre-apprenticeship grant.
We were really excited to have our first cohort. Students had interest in working with children, some of them in a capacity where they thought they would graduate and go right into the workforce and others that intended to go into teacher education programs. The benefit for them is that they did get hands-on learning while also working on dual-enrollment credit and the certification. I think the beauty of the pre-apprenticeship program is that what the students get at the end really is stackable. A student could leave that program and enter the workforce in early childhood, or a student could continue on and use credits earned toward an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. The students expressed that they loved the classroom experiences. I think anytime you can offer them something that is so flexible where they can go right into the workforce or they can pursue more education, I think that’s what students today really want.
Our school is very small. We have less than a thousand students total. So we’re always looking for ways to bring programming to our students, and a lot of times, it is with community resources because we don’t necessarily have enough students to hire a teacher in an early childhood department. For high school juniors and seniors, we are looking for really good workplace experiences as well as classes that we are not able to offer on site. II think the CDA offered both for our students, and I think any school can benefit from this.
Specifically in our district, the CTC that we primarily work with didn’t have an early childhood program, so that wasn’t an option. We are a two-county school, so we can use the Lackawanna County CTC as well. But seats in that program, because our primary programming is at Susquehanna County CTC, are not always available. CTC usually fills, and our students aren’t able to use the program. It was great to have something similar in the field that is available.
I was able to accompany the students on their first visit to the Oppenheim Family Children’s Center tour, and the students from our high school were so excited. One of our guidance counselors also joined me on the visit, and since that time, he’s been really helpful in this process. His children had attended the Children’s Center, so he enjoyed the return visit. Interestingly, one of the high school students had also attended the Children’s Center, and loved the opportunity to return. Both the students and the children were delighted, and the enthusiasm was contagious.”
High school students have the opportunity to obtain the credentials they need to become certified childcare professionals.
Cohort participants report that they were committed to the successful completion of the coursework and valued the experiential learning gained at the laboratory school. The support system provided to the students was viewed as a key element for success. Participants gained knowledge about the ECE field as well as related occupations.
Karla Carlucci, Ed.D.
Principal, Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County (CTCLC)
“CTCLC has an Early Childhood Development program for high school students, grades 10 through 12, who are interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education. During the 19-20 school year, Keystone College invited our juniors to participate in the pre apprenticeship program. We had 2 students who committed to the program and successfully finished, all while the pandemic was happening! I am excited to highlight that both students earned college credits as well as hours towards their Child Development Associate credential (CDA) while being enrolled in high school. One student currently has 12 credits and the other has 18. Both are also currently enrolled in classes this semester and will end their senior year of high school with 18 and 21 college credits respectively. In addition, CTCLC now has 4 new juniors enrolled in the pre apprenticeship program who have just started their first semester of classes at Keystone College.
Aside from some of the obvious benefits such as a students being able to earn college credits without having to incur any out of pocket expenses, the first benefit that comes to mind is in regards to what our two seniors have told other students REPEATEDLY about the program, which is that Keystone College provides all of the necessary supports to ensure the students are successful. This includes a wide range of supports from faculty and administration supporting the students to some simple supports such as giving students binders and writing utensils on their first day of class.
Another benefit to us and the students enrolled in CTCLC’s Early Childhood Development program is that the Keystone College Early Childhood Pre Apprentice program allows our students to see the direct connections between what they are learning in high school to college level courses. Our students commented many times on how their classes at CTCLC helped lay the foundation for their college pathway. I think this is important to highlight because many of our students are first generation college students in their families and so having the opportunity to enroll in a college level course allows the students to see firsthand just how successful they can be in a college program. Both students repeatedly said there is no way you cannot be successful as long as you participate and go to class because Keystone College provides all of the necessary supports to ensure students are successful.”