New River Community College (NRCC), in partnership with Virginia Tech Early Childhood Initiative and The Community Foundation of the New River Valley, First Steps, recently hosted “Early Childhood Career Day: Those Who Can, Teach!” to focus on recruiting and developing the early childhood workforce.
Forty-one students interested in the early childhood field from Floyd County High School, Giles County Technology Center, Pulaski County High School, Radford High School, and Blacksburg High School participated in the event. The students and their teachers rotated through six different childcare related sessions. Students had the opportunity to explore information provided by community agencies and resource exhibitors.
The event also included sessions for career and technical education directors, high school early childhood teachers, high school counselors, and Virginia Preschool Initiative coordinators to discuss developing the early childhood workforce and strengthening the career pathway. The educator session was presented by Bonnie Graham, NRCC professor of early childhood education.
“It will take everyone in our New River Valley communities to strengthen the early childhood workforce and career pathway,” noted Graham.
The session and discussion were facilitated by Kim Thomason, Virginia Tech, Early Childhood Initiative; Margaret Hurst, Community Foundation of the NRV, First Steps; Kathryn Thompson, Community Foundation of the NRV, First Steps; and Audrey Kirk, United Way Southwest Virginia, Workforce.
“The most overlooked and powerful influence in the quality of life and economic development of a community is the quality of early childhood education or childcare,” said Graham. “A significant piece of high quality is related to the quality of the professional adult providing the experiences and interactions that are developmentally appropriate and lead to strong, positive neural brain circuitry. It is not about forcing academics earlier and earlier.”
“We believe a credential in early childhood from our local high schools to NRCC and beyond will significantly strengthen the early childhood career pathway, improve the quality of the workforce, and yield greater success for children and families. Qualified providers and teachers are the pillars of childcare. The investment we make in the early years gives the best possibility of success and will pay off greater economic dividends.”
Submitted by New River Community College