SHELBURNE, Vt.: On June 8, four Vermont early childhood educators celebrated their graduation from the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC) Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program. Graduates earned qualifications as Child Development Specialists, a nationally recognized quality credential, from the Vermont Department of Labor. The program is administered by VTAEYC in partnership with the Community College of Vermont (CCV). Participants in the Early Childhood Apprenticeship program gain education and experience, and improve quality and stability for young children enrolled in the classrooms in which they work.

The graduates are:

  • Joy Bergeron of Bridport, employed by Ascension Childcare in Shelburne
  • Stephanie Paradis of Pittsford, employed by Vermont Achievement Center in Rutland
  • Liza Pouliot of Williston, employed by Allen Brook School in Williston
  • Shayna Stygles of Essex Junction, employed by Freedom Rains in Colchester

Completing the program took “hard work, determination and perseverance,” said graduate Stephanie Paradis of Pittsford. “Success feels like I’m on top of the world.”

“After 30 plus years working with students and families, I can honestly say the apprenticeship experience has been a gift,” added graduate Liza Pouliot of Williston. “My confidence has increased and I love every part of the work we do for families.”

While completing approximately two years of on-the-job training at an early childhood education program, apprentices simultaneously take a coursework sequence at CCV, earning 18 or more credits, and participate in additional community trainings.

“CCV is proud to be a partner with the Early Childhood Apprenticeship program,” said CCV Associate Academic Dean Diane Hermann-Artim. “The interconnections of education, work experience, and mentoring provide a rich experience for apprentices and enhances their valuable work with children and families in our communities.”

Each apprentice is closely mentored by an experienced teacher in their early childhood education setting in a relationship that benefits both the apprentice and the classroom. These mentors heartily cheered the accomplishments of the graduates.

“Mentoring Liza Pouliot in this program provided us with a framework in which to develop as a classroom team,” said Pouliot’s mentor Patricia Casey, Early Childhood Special Educator at Allen Brook School in Williston. “Liza committed herself to a high level of achievement in the coursework, and this showed in her daily interactions with the children and the classroom staff. This shared experience raised the level of professionalism in our work with families and children and continues on as a foundation of excellence in our early education program.”

Moreover, the Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program aims to help stabilize Vermont’s early childhood workforce by reducing job turnover. Many apprentices enter the program with no previous college experience and are unsure of how to advance in the field. The program provides a clear pathway to success.

“Our Apprentice Program helps address issues of low pay and high turnover in the early childhood education field through wraparound support of the apprentice with scholarships, training, mentoring and financial incentives,” said VTAEYC Executive Director Janet McLaughlin. “Apprentices and graduates then offer consistency and high quality experiences to the children in their daily care. We congratulate our 2021 graduates and are excited that their expertise will continue to enrich young Vermont children.”

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