JAKE THOMAS NEVER IMAGINED he would enjoy working with a room of one and two year olds as much as he does! An assistant teacher at the Early Learning Center at the YMCA in Erie, Pennsylvania for 10 months, Jake is currently studying to earn his CDA Credential through Edinboro University.

“My plan is to continue until I earn a Bachelor’s degree,” he says, indicating that he is thankful his director called the PDO-sponsored tuition opportunity to his attention. “There is really nothing to be nervous about because you get all the resources and support you need to succeed.”

Jake says that taking coursework via Zoom has not been difficult at all. “The instructors are very supportive and want students to succeed. I haven’t really needed much extra help so far, but I know they are available if I need them.”

Going forward, Jake says he hopes to use knowledge to develop lessons and contribute more to class planning. Indicating his coworkers are great leaders in the classroom, Jake says other men should not shy away from work in early childhood education, which is traditionally a female-dominated workforce. “Being a guy in this environment seems to help everyone. Both the people I work with and the children are happy to have a man as an assistant teacher. The children want me to play with them all the time. It’s both fun and rewarding for all of us.”