Broadalbin-Perth High School senior Katelyn Davis always thought she wanted to be a teacher.
After one day in the Exploring Early Childhood Education (EECE) elective, she knew for certain.
“I tried it in ninth grade and fell in love with it immediately,” Davis said. She is a teaching assistant, through the EECE program, in Mrs. Scott’s and Mrs. DiNicola’s pre-K class.
The program is fostering Davis’ deep passion for education. Once, to help a student struggling with the alphabet, she tapped into his love of cars. She made a huge cardboard alphabet parking lot, with each space representing a letter.
“I’d bring in cars and tell him to park his car in ‘parking lot A,’” Davis said. “Now, he knows all his letters. That growth really got me and I started crying.”
To get to the pre-K classroom, Davis simply walks through the high school, which shares a roof with The Learning Community (TLC). However, the capital project will reorganize the schools, moving TLC to the Perth campus. In the fall of 2019, the two will no longer be connected, but the connections made between students shouldn’t change.
Davis is a perfect example why high school Principal Mark Brooks envisions the program thriving in the near future, even if TLC is four miles away. This year’s switch to block scheduling also provides flexibility for EECE students traveling to Perth.
“We see the program really developing over the next few years,” Brooks said. “Our block schedule (74-minute classes) is really going to allow that to occur. It may occur at the end of the day now, instead of the beginning, but our students will still have that opportunity.”
EECE, formerly Literacy Volunteers of America, is an elective open to all high school grades. It is a foundation course for the career pathway in early childhood education. Approximately 30 high school students receive traditional classroom instruction, but the bulk of their time is spent in classrooms in The Learning Community.
“Students get a lot of hands-on interaction,” said high school English teacher Alycia Spraker, who helps run the program. “It’s a different way to engage in learning outside of the classroom environment.”