Jean Cota was a stay-at-home mom beginning at the age of 19, and went on to spend 16 years as a registered in-home childcare provider. “I knew times were changing, and that eventually a degree would be required,” she said. So she signed up for classes at CCV-Newport using a TEACH (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) grant. “It was a really cool experience,” she said. “I had never been to college before.”

Jean graduated from CCV in 2018 with her associate degree in early childhood education. “It completely changed how I looked at childcare. It used to be ‘I’m providing a home for children.’ Now it’s about education. It made me dive deeper. I completely redid my program. I looked more at how children learn.” Specifically, she created more opportunities for hands-on learning, including through a science center, a reading center, and a manipulative center. “Parents really noticed. I was THE daycare to go to, and that was really exciting.”

Jean continued with in-home childcare until the summer of 2019, when she became the director of childcare for Jay Peak Resort. “I climbed the career ladder because of the degree,” she said. For Jean, what’s most rewarding about her work is “when people walk in and go ‘wow.’ Being acknowledged for making the changes that really matter. When parents tell you they really value what you’re doing. It’s a good feeling.”

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