This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.
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My name is Erin Vickstrom, and I work at a preschool called the Quinsigamond Community College Children’s School in Worcester, Mass., located on the college’s campus. We serve children ages 2.9 to 5 years old.
I am very proud to be an early childhood educator. Many who don’t know what our job entails often overlook the work we do in this field. I love when children get excited about learning something new. I recently started bringing more science activities into the classroom. The children have responded so positively. Now when I walk into the classroom I have girls that come up to me and say, “Can we do science today?!” It is so exciting to me to have young children so excited to learn. I know my work could help to inspire life long learning.
The first five years of life are crucial to a child’s future success. By supporting children and families, the groundwork is laid to help children grow and develop through the rest of their lives. I work hard to build a strong social-emotional foundation for children and foster a love of learning at a young age, because a child who loves to learn and has a stable beginning emotionally will continue to thrive throughout their entire education and into their adult life.
I am also proud to help shape the future of our field by working with student teachers. Because we’re on the Quinsigamond campus, we work hand in hand with Quinsigamond’s Education department to create an atmosphere of learning for children and for adult community college students.
Having worked as an early childhood educator for six years, it is important to me to maintain a high level of quality in the field. Children deserve high-quality early childhood programs, and high-quality programs are run by high-quality leaders.
Educators who work with children on a daily basis are the experts in our field. That’s why we need to become strong leaders who advocate for quality in our programs, developmentally appropriate learning for our children, and higher wages for our teachers.
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a wonderful program that is training professionals to become such leaders. Through a partnership between Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University, I am acquiring a Leadership Certificate while also earning credit toward my Master’s Degree. The funding from the Educator and Provider Support Grant has made it possible to pursue this opportunity. These programs create a future of advancement for educators such as my classmates and myself. Given how low an early educator’s salary is, it’s crucial to provide access to educational programs that help prepare and retain a high-quality workforce.
Policy makers need to know that the benefit of having high-quality early education today is that it will pay off in financial and social benefits for many years to come. The investment to make all early education high-quality is well worth the cost.