View Preview

Little Bears Childcare & Preschool Learning

“It hasn’t always been easy,
but has been so worth it,”
– Martina Zimmerman

EMPLOYEE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES TAKE A VARIETY OF FORMS at Little Bears Childcare & Preschool Learning, which has operated in Hughesville, PA (Lycoming County) since 2010. Among them are pay raises, mentorship‐loaded support, gift cards, and even shopping trips to purchase work clothing. The result is an all‐winners scenario, where young children and their families, early education teachers, and the center owner all reap rewards.

“Martina Zimmerman is one of our teachers who is nearing completion of her CDA Credential and is a true role model for several of our other teachers who are following in her footsteps,” said Little Bears owner Carrie Edkin.

“It hasn’t always been easy, but has been so worth it,” said Martina. Balancing work at the center with her own family obligations, as well as CDA coursework, has presented time management challenges. “Support from my husband and colleagues, flexibility from Miss Gabby (center director Gabby Martina), and responsiveness from my instructor have been key to my ability to continue,” she said. The types of flexibility and support that has helped Martina to advance her CDA studies include being able to do course‐ work during the children’s nap times and collaborating with other co‐workers who are also PDO‐sponsored students. Her next goal is to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

With at least eight Little Bears’ teachers pursuing some form of professional development — and a few more scheduled to begin next academic year — the enthusiasm has been nothing short of energizing.

“Our infant room teacher just completed her CDA. I have noticed she brings new ideas to her classroom, such as how to interact in different ways with children. Our teachers with this CDA have stronger core competencies in early childhood education and apply what they have learned directly in the classroom,” Gabby added.

Little Bears wants the parents and guardians of the children in their care to know how much the center values their teachers’ education and how young children will benefit. “Meet‐the‐Team” welcome packets that are offered to families provide a snapshot of all the center’s teachers and staff, including their educational credentials and much more.

“Parents have really appreciated these packets as a way to get to know everyone here,” added Gabby. “It gives them confidence that their children are safe and well cared for by teachers who have the applied knowledge and skills.” The proof is a seal of approval that hangs on the wall, as well as on the faces of the happy children who attend Little Bears.

The ECEPDO@PASSHE congratulates the Little Bears team on the STAR 4 accomplishment and all its teachers who are pursing professional development.

Listen to the August 2022 PDO Podcast, featuring this team of early education teaching stars!