Oregon Educator Pushes Students to Earn CDA Credential

November 29, 2018

Published by CounciLINK on November 29, 2018


Jessica-AckermanJessica Ackerman has become a leader in early childhood education, though she remembers feeling helpless at the start of her career.

After graduating from college 20 years ago, she began working at a preschool in Hillsboro, OR, where her dedication and passion earned her several promotions. But once she became director of the child development center, her eyes opened to the challenges she and her colleagues faced.

“The difficulty of finding quality, nurturing educators left many of us feeling a bit helpless,” she said.

Then she found out about the Career Technical Education (CTE) program in the Hillsboro School District, where the Child Services Program offers high school students the chance to earn six college credits.

When she learned that the program was hiring students trained in early childhood education to run a community preschool, she was skeptical at first that students could fulfill this vital role. Then she discovered the potential of the program and knew “this was one of the answers to the shortage of quality, early childhood teachers.” So she seized on the chance to tap this promising resource.

For the past 12 years, she has served as leader of the electives and CTE teachers at the high school. In addition, she has developed Falcon’s Nest Preschool, which she recently took from a partial-day to an all-day program.

The change has helped parents. It also has helped students gain the 480 hours of direct experience they need to earn a Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™. She believes so strongly in the credential that she has persuaded the school board to add another course to the early childhood pathway, Introduction to the CDA.

Her goal is to have all students in her program leave with a CDA credential. And she continues to work on making this dream come true. She has already seen how the efforts of these high school students have lowered the teacher-student ratio. And with the right support, she knows the children have a better chance to become tomorrow’s leaders.

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