New Jersey Teacher Takes Tips From the Past and Plans For the Future

June 25, 2020

Published by CounciLINK on June 25, 2020

Stephanie-WendolowskiBack in the 1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson advised teachers to respect the needs of individual children. That’s still a premise of the Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential and great early childhood classes like the ones Stephanie Wendolowski has taught high school students for 13 years at Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, NJ.

Stephanie has taken some of Emerson’s tips, but you shouldn’t assume she lives in the past. “Throughout my entire career in education,” she says, “I have not only made it a priority to stay up to date with all the current trends in the field of education, I have strived to provide my students with the best possible training in both our career technical education (CTE) and CDA programs.”

She has also taught at Passaic County Community College and served as a Professional Development Specialist who mentors and assesses CDA students. So, she knows the importance of supporting them through certification and helping them hone all the skills they need to earn the credential.

This experience must have come in handy in her efforts to make Passaic’s CDA program the best it can possibly be. In recent years, she’s played a prominent role in revising the curriculum at her school. “I have written proposals,” she says, “to make our students’ learning experiences more meaningful by adding opportunities for fieldwork and more chances to work with young children.”

She’s also involved in plans to add a second on-site preschool to the existing one on campus. “I hope to contribute to its development and functioning,” she says, “with the most up-to-date materials and a learning environment that would best meet our program’s goals and, more importantly, the needs of our students.”

She has a strong base to build on since Passaic’s program is already well-rounded. Students in the CTE program receive intense training throughout their high school career. As seniors, they also take college-level CDA courses and serve a year-long internship. “Many of our students follow through by attaining their CDA and continue their postsecondary studies in the field,” she says. “They often become educators, and some are currently my colleagues.”

These successes have inspired her to bring her students’ training to the next level. “They are the future of early education,” she says, so she hopes they’ll become lifelong learners. As she urges them to go past their comfort zone, she likes to share Emerson’s timeless advice: “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

And Stephanie serves as a role model to guide their professional growth. She knows that “those who lead by example and demonstrate passion for what they do make it much easier for others to follow.”


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