RUMFORD — Students in the Region 9 program in Early Childhood Education universally have one thing in common – they enjoy working with kids. The program provides a solid foundation for future teachers, daycare providers, preschool owners, social workers, healthcare providers and students interested in psychology and counseling to work with children.
Dirigo senior Misty Steward chose ECE because “I have always wanted to be a teacher for small children. I felt that this would be the best way to further my education before college.”
Her classmate Ashley Kimball agreed, “I’ve wanted to teach young children all my life. I love kids and this is a perfect opportunity.”
Both Steward and Kimball are second-year students in the program.
The program involves running a pre-kindergarten for 3- to 5-year-old students during the mornings. The high school students plan lessons and learn about child development including social, psychological, physical and intellectual aspects of development during the afternoons.
Instructor Terri Provencher said, “Ninety-five percent of ECE students are in college or have gone to college. One student is a nanny. One is working for child development services.”
What do students hope to get out of the program? Three themes emerge. Some hope to get a leg up on the competition in college or business. Some want to learn more about children. Finally, some want something tangible – a certificate.
Haylee Jamison, a junior from Dirigo, said, “I hope to be a step ahead of people in my college. I want to become good with teaching kids.”
Autumn Fournier wants “a better understanding of early development in young children and how to best fit their needs.” Fournier is a junior at Telstar High School.
“A certificate to be able to work in a real day care after high school” is Krystal Pratt’s goal. She is a senior at Telstar and a first-year student.
Students earn certified early childhood assistant certification if they complete the two-year program with a portfolio, earn 80 percent or higher on a standardized test, complete infant child and adult first aid and CPR, and earn an ECE grade of 85 or higher.
Mountain Valley High School senior Morgan Duguay said, “My favorite thing about this program is the children. You, surprisingly, can learn a lot from them as well as them from you.”
Another MVHS student, junior Kristen Gould, said, “I like playing with the kids and helping them learn.”
According to MVHS senior Courtney Hentschel, “The kids cheer me up no matter what and [the program] gets me away from my high school.”
With his wry humor, Dalten Laubenthal reports his favorite thing is “Play time every other day without loads of work added on.” He is a junior at MVHS.
Provencher also gets rave reviews from her “big” students.
“I love Terri,” said Marissa Abbott, a Dirigo sophomore. “She’s very caring, funny and a great teacher. I also like working with all the adorable kids while with a couple of good friends.”
Telstar senior Kelsey Averill said, “Terri has become a second mother to me.”
ECE students would highly recommend their program to peers. Gabby Severance, a Dirigo junior, said, “It’s a great program. We not only learn, we have fun, we laugh and get the experience for our futures.”
“This program has a lot of hands on,” said MVHS junior Marissa Martel. “You learn how to approach the children in engaging ways. Also, it’s a lot of fun and you get to see how the children progress in their learning.”
If a student is interested in learning more about the ECE program, contact Region 9 for a tour.