Early Childhood Education Stories (ECE)

Here are stories from our ECE community members — we invite you to share your story, too

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Hello! My name is Kendra T. Barnes, and I wanted to share my story, because I was very fortunate to become a CDA at a crucial point in the history of Early Childhood Education. I had a chance to become a CDA in 2003 but decided to pass on it because at the time I was pregnant and did not want to go to the late night classes that were being given. Thank heavens my employer at the time (NAS Jacksonville Child Development Center) gave me a second chance and offered to pay their employees' fees for the process of becoming a CDA. I partnered with a great friend/co-worker (Sylvia McBride), and we tag-teamed in getting all the information for the resource file and helped each other with encouragement to complete those competency goals. If you have someone to tag team with, it is a great idea. After completing my observations and submitting the information to Washington, I was nervous as ever because I knew the next step was to take the test and submit all that I had wrote about myself, and how I gave back to the Early Childhood field in serving and caring for the children in my care. The test went fine and the CDA Representative made me feel comfortable enough that I was not so nervous when it came time for the test. I knew I did a great job, and so I waited to here from the Council. When I received the award letter and my credential in the mail, it was a feeling of accomplishment and made me want to continue in going much further with my career as an Early Childhood caregiver.button All those nights of putting my daughter to sleep early so that I could work on the writing of my goals and the early Saturday mornings going to the library paid off big time. You see, at the time I did not have a computer at home and had to make several trips to the library for research and to make copies, I would have a purse full of dimes!!! (for the copier at the library). Once I received and renewed three years later, I went on and began my journey in obtaining my degree in Early Childhood Education, and I'm still pushing through in that journey. The great thing about having a CDA is that it is a national certification. I started in Florida and then moved to Louisiana where it was recognized and did help me in finding a job at the local Child Care Resource and Referral (Volunteers of America Partnerships In Child Care). In my current position I do work with people who work in child care, and I also conduct classes for child care centers and home providers that need a certain amount of hours to continue to be registered through the state. About three months ago, I got my acceptance letter from the Council to be an Advisor. In being an Advisor I can now help those in child care become a CDA also. My next step is to become a Council Representative and administer test to those aspiring people who want to make Early Childhood a better place for our children. I wish that I would have known about this program long before 2003, and because I do know about it, I tell all who work with children about it.
- Kendra Barnes
Starting a new job in the childcare arena was exciting! I knew that I enjoyed working with children, and it was a great opportunity to stay at home with my daughter. One year turned into two, and before I knew it two years turned intobutton six. On daily walks with the children I passed by Pratt Educational Services, which provided CDA training. This was my first time hearing about this type of training. I inquired and received information about the benefits of educating myself in the field of early childhood education and development. I wanted to provide the best experiences for the children in my care and offer activities that will help them when entering school. After careful consideration I decided to sign up for training. Participating in the five month training course was the best thing I ever did! I learned the fundamentals of early childhood education, learned what developmentally appropriate practice was, how to make interactive charts that align with curricula for the children, and most of all how to improve my verbal skills with parents when discussing their children. I had learned the verbiage and education that set me apart from being just a "babysitter" to a Professional Childcare Provider. The CDA training was a plus when I interviewed families and I had evidence of specialized training; that set me apart from other providers. Furthermore, my passion for early childhood education grew, and I soon enrolled in college. I have an associates degree in ECE and a bachelors in Child Psychology, and I became an advisor for the Council of Professional Recognition! My home has been used as a learning station for a vocational program that teaches ECE to high school students. I have truly gone beyond my expectations, and I know the CDA process was a base for my enthusiasm.
- Traci McNeil
My CDA journey began in 1985, when I was a classroom teacher at Taylor County Head Start program. I was the first person to receive a CDA in my town, and 535th person to receive a CDA in the nation. Even then, I knew that CDA was a precious God-given gift that would enable me to make a difference in the lives around me.button I was chosen in 1986 to attend Advisor’s Training through Elmira College, where I was trained to be a CDA Advisor. I then began serving as advisor for my co-workers. In 1989, I became the first CDA trainer for the Taylor County School District Title I program, helping the first CDAs in the District. I later opened my own business called "Elizabeth Bines Training Center," and I began meeting the needs of teachers at the local child care, pre-k, and Head Start programs. I still continued as a classroom teacher at the Head Start. Today, I am no longer in the classroom, but I continue to train others, and serve as an advisor in my town of Perry, Florida. Since receiving my CDA in 1985, I now am a licensed State of Florida Advanced Director. I received my A.S. Degree in Early Childhood from North Florida Jr. College, B.S. Degree in Human Services Management from the University of Phoenix, and will receive my Masters Degree in Education and Teacher Leadership from University of Phoenix, on June 4, 2011. The CDA motivated me to make a difference in the lives of others and it made a profound difference in my own life. I am continuing to prepare teachers for excellence through CDA in Perry, Florida, in Taylor County. I once heard: “They said it couldn't be done, but we couldn't say so until we tried" — that’s what is happening with CDA. In Taylor County, we tried and we succeeded!
- Diann McClain
I received my CDA in 2009, and the process was long and arduous. I went to class every Thursday night. Since I work from 8-5 every day, and my class started at 6:00 pm, my day was extremely long on Thursday. But I worked hard on my CDA. Some of us at the child care center were asked if we wanted to go back to school to get our CDAs. Most of us answered “No, thank you. It takes too much time.” The owner of the center said she would like for at least three teachers to go. button The more she talked, the more interested I became. I had the idea that I wanted to return to school anyway the next fall. She said “Why don't you try for your CDA?” The classes were only one night a week plus some Saturday classes. I said I would try. I had been out of school since 1991, so I was nervous when my classes started in August. I just walked in the classroom and told myself “Tammi, you can do this.” I am glad I did. I had a lot of support from my own family and from parents at the center. They would always ask me how my classes were going. When I took my test for the CDA I was nervous, but the Council Rep said, “Tammi, just be calm. These are things you do every day with the children you work with.” The test took about two hours, and when I was done, she said you did a good job. She said you should hear from the Council in about three weeks. About three weeks went by, and when I got my certificate in the mail, I was like “WOW, I did it!” I was so happy, I cried for an hour. My mom had told me I could do it. I showed the children’s parents my certificate and many of them congratulated me. I received so many nice cards from the parents. I was the only one from my center who received the CDA and it was a very nice experience for me. And I enjoyed meeting teachers from other centers. When our last day of classes came to an end, the students in the class had a big party. Everyone passed the class and we hugged each other. Many of us were crying, fearing that we won't see each other any more now that class is over. But a lot of us do keep in contact with each other. One girl said to me it's like losing family because that is how close everyone was in our class. Everybody pulled together and we helped each other. My teacher explained that this is what it is all about — we are all here for the same purpose. I am currently working on getting my bachelors degree from the university in Early Childhood Education with a dual focus on preschool and toddlers. Earning my CDA was a rewarding experience. I would recommend it to anyone working in the child care field. And then they can say “WOW, I did it!”
- Tammi Spellman
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