Ohio Teacher Finds Excitement in Teaching Early Childhood Education

June 27, 2019

Published by CounciLINK on June 27, 2019

OhioCANFIELD, OH – In 2011, Valora Washington, CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, visited the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center (MCCTC) here. She was here to speak at a conference and visited Julie Pagnotta’s class in early childhood education.

Washington told Julie that the Council was now allowing high school students to apply for the Child Development Associate (CDA®) credential.

“We went for it,” Pagnotta recalled, and in 2012, MCCTC’s first student applied to earn her CDA.

“(The student) was self-motivated, very bright, and she took the initiative to reach her goal,” Pagnotta said. It also helped that she had an excellent teacher.

Pagnotta has been interested in ECE since college, where she learned about the role of play as a foundation for learning. In the mid-1980s she had the chance to be a long-term substitute in a career-tech, early childhood program and went on to work in two other similar programs.
“I have found this field very rewarding,” she said. “There’s never a dull moment working with teenagers as they guide children in the preschool setting. It’s even more exciting when infants and toddlers are added to the mix.”

And the thrill Pagnotta got from the field drew her back to teaching ECE after 20 years of counseling young parents and pregnant teens.

After her return to the classroom in 2010, she began preparing students at MCCTC to earn their CDAs. The courses she teaches give them the 120 required hours of education. They can put in at least 240 of the 480 requisite experience hours at an onsite preschool, and the rest they get by volunteering or working at local childcare settings.

Pagnotta knows the requirements well since she also serves as a Professional Development Specialist (PDS) and assesses candidates for the CDA.

And her professional assessment of the CDA? It isn’t child’s play to earn the credential, but it’s worth the work. The CDA, as she knows, is the foundation for an exciting career.


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