A Tribute to History Makers
We should recall that a teacher started Women’s History Month, as we now mark the occasion. In the 1970s, Molly Murphy MacGregor, a teacher in Sonoma County, CA, noticed that there weren’t a lot of women in her students’ history books and set out to fill the gap. In 1978, she helped start a Women’s History Week in her district. The idea spread and teachers across the U.S. began using the week to celebrate unsung female heroes. By 1980, word of what those teachers were doing reached President Jimmy Carter, who called MacGregor to tell her he was proclaiming the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. In the years that followed, President Ronald Reagan followed suit by officially making March Women’s History Month in our country.
This tribute to women’s achievements is a step in promoting equity for the genders. Though we’ve come a long way, sexism still exists so we need to keep empowering women. One way is to offer girls more chances for training that will lead to rewarding careers. Career and technical education programs, like the high school CDA, can make a difference. Teachers who already offer the CDA program know it provides hands-on chances for students to gain skills, advance their education and prepare for a high-demand occupation.
If you want to give this opportunity to your students, you should attend the launch of our new CDA High School Handbook. It will feature a panel of experts on how to start a CDA program in your school and why you should do it. Read on for a preview of what’s in store as we profile two of our wonderful panel members.
Rebecca McGrath-Hinkle, a teacher at Columbus Downtown High School, gets students excited about her program by showing them all the pluses of the credential. “I tell them about how the CDA will help you earn college credit,” she says, “increase your chance of employment and help you get paid a higher wage. I also talk about how you can use the credential to open your own preschool and that’s another selling point because many Downtown students want to start their own business.”
And these students can get the hands-on experience they need at Heavenly Kids Center for Learning since its owner Misti Norman has partnered with Downtown High to help students earn their CDA. “Every year,” she explains, “we hire at least four CDA students and have them train with a mentor teacher. After they graduate and get their CDA, they typically stay with us for at least five years. Many of them also gain the confidence to pursue their AA or BA,” Misti says. And she considers them her greatest achievement.
The Council has a new achievement of its own to report since the Maryland State Department of Education has awarded us a grant that will cover the cost of CDA credential fees and books. The grant should increase the pool of educators with the cognitive, social and emotional skills to support our youngest children.
They’re badly needed because the pandemic has led many ECE teachers to leave the field and many preschools to shut their doors. The closings have heightened the stress parents feel as they face stay-at-home orders, financial pressures and loss of jobs. There’s been a rise in early childhood trauma, as you’ll see when we discuss Air Hugs and ACEs, since the mental health of children depends on the mental health of those who give them care.
It’s a good thing that help is on the way that promises to renew our field, Dr. Moore tells us this month in his blog. The American Rescue Plan Act will give our field the support it needs to survive COVID-19 and President Joe Biden has told all states to make our early childhood teachers a priority group in their plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
Another piece of good news is the appointment of Katie Hamm, a highly accomplished woman, as acting deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development and associate deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Early Childhood Development. Before joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Hamm was vice president for early childhood policy at the Center for American Progress where she helped advance equity in education, a value we, too, embrace. She’s committed to doing what’s best for our youngest learners—and we’re counting on her to make history in years to come.
Happy Women’s History Month,
The Council for Professional Recognition