The COVID pandemic has made evident the critical role quality early childhood education and care plays in both the development of our youngest children and the economy. Many people simply cannot get back to work without quality care for their young children. The Early Childhood Education Professional Development Organization has made that possible for thousands of Pennsylvanians and continues to build a supportive community of practice for those working in this field and who want to build their career pathways in this all-important profession.Listen
AMBER BARKMAN knows how challenging access to a variety of services can be in the rural region where she lives and works. As a Career Coach and ECE Professional Development Coordinator in the Early Learning Resource Center that services seven largely rural counties in PDO Northwestern Region 6, Amber knows the value of access to quality early childhood education, broadband service, and good-paying jobs.
Starting as a quality coach who travelled to childcare centers to evaluate and help teachers improve their skills (as many do not have credentials or degrees), Amber became an ECE Professional Development Coordinator in July of this year. “It seemed like an ideal fit for me,” she says, as her bachelor’s degree is in early childhood education and her master’s degree is in English as a second language. The latter degree helped her to bridge multicultural families when she taught in a Pre-K Counts program following her 2013 college graduation.
A proven cheerleader for the PDO program and what it can offer to student-workers and in turn, the children for whom they care, Amber has actively recruited students into CDA and other credit-bearing coursework; she increased her fall recruits from 10 to 30 who are scheduled for spring courses.
“We have a lot of family childcare providers in our region and I work to recruit them,” Amber remarks. Childcare center directors are pleased both they and their staff are pursuing professional development funded by the PDO.
Her secret sauce seems to be working, as Diane Hoffman, a center director in the region (and PDO-sponsored student) applauds Amber’s efforts. “PDO funding will enable me to offer a higher quality of care to the children in my facility. Thank you, Amber, for all your help and thank you to the PDO for this opportunity.” Reach Amber at [email protected].
I CAN, SO I SHOULD. This has been the lifelong motto of ECE PDO Professional Development Coordinator Karen Lindbergh. A single mother of four grown children, Karen knows personally about the struggles associated with balancing family needs, work demands, and advancing her own education. Motivated by faith, family, a strong work ethic, and a can-do spirit, Karen understands firsthand the value of early childhood education and the importance of gaining credentials to increase both career- and income-earning opportunities.
A long-time champion of young children, including those with special needs, Karen works tirelessly to encourage early childcare workers to take advantage of PDO-sponsored education. “This PDO-funded educational experience will develop students’ understanding of how children learn,” she says, noting that everyone wins.
A proponent of apprenticeship opportunities that include mentoring by masters, Karen believes early childhood apprenticeships are opportunities to both expand knowledge and develop collaborative skills needed to enhance lives. “Apprenticeships are opportunities to cultivate more successful futures, where student-workers flourish and pass along a love of learning and apply their skills to benefit young children.”
Recently, Karen helped a 74 year-old student enroll in her first Child Development Associate credential (CDA) course, demonstrating that education has no age limitations. Contact her at: [email protected]