Past Roads to Success

Road to Success

Throughout 2024, the Office of Childhood (OOC) will share “Roads to Success,” a collection of stories from professionals and higher education institutions. Stories from professionals feature achievements from people working in childhood programs such as home visiting, early intervention, child care, Head Start, preschool, and afterschool. Stories from higher education institutions highlight colleges and universities who are using innovative methods to support and grow the early childhood workforce. There are many roads to success, it is important to highlight the varying and unique pathways that professionals take and how higher education programs can pave the way.

April 2024

This month’s Road to Success story features Elijah Chauncey, a current junior at Joplin High School in Joplin. Elijah is working towards his Child Development Associate (CDA) certification to jumpstart his career by taking early childhood courses at Franklin Technical Center (FTC). Elijah will graduate from high school in 2025 and obtain his CDA once he turns 18. Elijah said he first became interested in the CDA during his sophomore year of high school when he toured the early childhood classroom at FTC. Elijah shared, “something about being in that room spoke to me and I felt very inspired; I just wanted to join the program.”

Elijah spoke about his current coursework centering around storytelling and utilizing books in the classroom. He has enjoyed the opportunity his early childhood courses give him to begin preparing his portfolio - a certification requirement for the CDA. Elijah is currently volunteering in the South Joplin Head Start/Early Head Start in conjunction with his high school courses. He said a pivotal point for him was when he first began visiting the classroom and met a student who was struggling. Elijah said he bonded with the student and that his passion for early childhood ignited through watching the student flourish. He aspires to “help raise the next generation of great people.” He advises anyone going into the field to, “go into it for the right reasons and have your heart in the right place.”

March 2024

This month’s Road to Success story spotlights the University of Central Missouri’s Early Childhood Education program (UCM ECE). Currently, UCM’s College of Education and ECE program offer a variety of degree pathways.

For individuals seeking undergraduate coursework in early childhood education, UCM ECE offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with teacher certification. There are several other options for undergraduates, such as adding an early childhood special education minor or completing undergraduate certificates.

UCM ECE also offers an undergraduate program to support completion of a bachelor's degree in early childhood education in 18 months (or less) if the individual already has a bachelor's degree in another field. For example, qualifying candidates can earn college credit for current work experience. This applies to paraprofessionals currently working in early childhood education classrooms and seeking teacher certification.

UCM ECE’s fully online graduate degree program offers a 30-credit hour Master of Science in Early Childhood Education and two 15 credit hour graduate certificates. UCM ECE partners with Child Care AwareⓇ of Missouri to offer a specialized MSE certificate in Leadership and Management in Early Childhood Education through T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI scholarships for early childhood educators in child care settings.

UCM is an important partner in strengthening the early childhood workforce in Missouri and participates in the OOC workforce development project.

February 2024

This month’s "Road to Success” focuses on Robin Galloway from Smithville, MO. Robin owns Smithville Montessori Academy II. She graduated from Missouri State University with an undergraduate degree in communications and worked at a news station before entering the insurance field. After having her children, Robin pursued a Montessori certification through the American Montessori Society. Robin opened Smithville Montessori Academy II in 2002 serving infants through kindergarten age children.

Robin worked for about 13 years and began to recognize children and families needed more support in the early years. So, she enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for her master’s in social work and graduated in 2018 as a Licensed Master Social Worker. Robin can now provide children and families ethical therapeutic support with her multifaceted background.  

Later, Robin enrolled in the birth to three, infant/toddler certification through the Center for Guided Studies. This course is an 18-month course, focusing on birth to three child development, following the Montessori method of education Robin is working though the program accreditation process with the International Montessori Council.

Robin shared, “There are different alternatives to teaching in early childhood. If you are really getting the training and education to work with the children, you do not have to narrow yourself to just one area. The field has dramatically changed. Quality education is where it is at!”

January 2024

Victoria Campos
Photo Credit: Joanna Pohl, M.Ed.
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This month's "Road to Success” focuses on Victoria Campos, a home visiting program manager. From a young age, Victoria knew she wanted a career in early childhood. Early in her career, Victoria accepted a position as an administrative assistant at Triality (now Easterseals Midwest) where she worked with home visiting, autism, and Head Start programs. Soon after, Victoria's supervisor approached her about working as a home visitor. After about a year, she was offered a full-time position as a parent educator, and in July 2023, Victoria was promoted to home visiting program manager, overseeing the bilingual team. She finds this work rewarding because it allows her to continue to work with families and watch them accomplish their goals, as well as oversee new parent educators as they grow in their careers.

Victoria believes that everyone is called to contribute to the world in some way and her job is "how I give myself to the world - it is my mission."

 

Spotlight on Professionals

2023 Spotlight on Professionals aims to share stories from those working in childhood programs. This includes all professionals such as home visiting, early intervention, child care, Head Start, preschool, and afterschool.

November 2023

Erin Wehmeier
Photo Credit: Erin Wehmeier​​​​

This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” highlights the work of Home Visiting Supervisor, Erin Wehmeier, of Healthy Families of America. Erin has loved working with children since she was young and remembers pretending to be a teacher when she was a child. She obtained her degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois in 2004. Erin began teaching in 2008, and for 11 years, she taught in private and public school settings.

As a foster parent, Erin recognized the value of the trauma-informed training she received and felt passionate in supporting the birth families of the children she fostered. After moving to Missouri and discovering the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program and Healthy Families of America she began working with birth mothers of the children she had fostered, teaching them the parenting skills she had acquired through her trauma-informed training.

In just eight months, she became a supervisor in the Healthy Families of America program, showcasing her dedication and effectiveness. In 2021, funding changes led Erin to Community Partnership of the Ozarks, where she continues to serve in her supervisory role along with a full home visiting caseload. Her story is a testament to the power of dedication, compassion, and the desire to help others. Her journey is an inspiration to all who seek to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families.

“Children are our future, and we need to invest in them and meet their needs educationally and emotionally.”

October 2023

This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on Carron Miesner, a parent educator serving Clay County, Missouri with Easterseals Midwest.

Photo Credit: Carron Miesner

Carron graduated from Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri with her bachelor’s in business administration and an emphasis in paralegal studies. Working in law, she began to grow her family and found herself scaling back her office work. In 2002, she quit her office job to stay home with her children until they moved on to school. She then began volunteering at her youngest child’s preschool, which eventually led to her becoming a full-time preschool teacher.

Once all her children entered elementary school, she felt she was at a crossroads. She knew about home visitors from receiving services for her own children. Carron explained, “it just so happened that there were some parents as teachers jobs that popped up. A light bulb went on – that is exactly what I wanted to do.” 

In 2008, Carron was offered a position as a parent educator through Parents as Teachers for Hickman Mills School District. She loved it! She said it was a “really great job” and she gained “a lot of experience from them.”

In 2010, Carron moved over to Easterseals Midwest as a parent educator. Shortly after, in 2011, she enrolled in Metropolitan Community College and received her certification in early childhood development. In 2021, Carron moved from working with families of children birth to three years old to children three to 19 years old. She feels she can relate better with these families and share her experiences and challenges as a mother of older children.

“My job has moved and conformed to my life. Everything is so applicable. As a parent educator, I use my own knowledge of child development with the families I work with. I also use the experience from my kids being in the program to share with other parents.”

September 2023

This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on Brianna Lincoln.

Photo Credit: Brianna Lincoln

Brianna currently works as a paraprofessional and long-term substitute with the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program within Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS). After high school, Brianna enrolled at University of Central Missouri (UCM) in 2012.

Brianna says, “I knew I wanted to teach little children because that’s where it all begins, the early intervention stages.”

After completing 60 credit hours at UCM, Brianna accepted a part-time position with KCPS working in the pre-kindergarten Head Start. She shifted into ECSE in 2017 and graduated from UCM with her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development in 2018.

Shortly after graduating, Brianna discovered a cohort program offered through UCM that would allow her to obtain her early childhood teaching certification. She joined the program without hesitation.

As she continues in her role with KCPS, Brianna knows that she made the right career choice. Her advice to those considering the profession is, “If you are dedicated and truly passionate about teaching, this is what you should do.”

When she reflects how children grow over the course of a year and the families she has helped in her role, Brianna feels joy and pride. She hopes that others will see the benefits of choosing early childhood education saying “We’re always in need of loving and caring educators to make a difference in the lives of children.”

 

August 2023

This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on Brandy Jones, director of the Child Development Laboratory at St. Louis Community College.

Brandy Jones.
Photo Credit: Brandy Jones

Brandy’s daughter attended a family child care program. When Brandy’s daughter struggled with extreme separation anxiety, the program director offered Brandy a job to ensure Brandy's child felt safe. Brandy was taking community college classes, but was unsure of her direction until she began working with children.

Brandy’s professional life took her in many different directions. She served as an early childhood assistant in a school district, a classroom teacher in a child care center, and worked as an infant/toddler educational assistant in a lab school. In 2010, she earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in early care and education. In 2017, she completed her bachelor’s degree in child development.

 After completing her bachelor’s degree, Brandy wanted a new challenge and returned to work in a school district as a teen parent educator. Although she loved her work, she accepted a new job as assistant director at St. Louis Community College’s Child Development Lab school in 2018.

Brandy went on to earn a master's degree in child development with an emphasis in leadership and advocacy from the Erickson Institute in 2022. In January of 2023, she became director of the St. Louis Community College’s Child Development Lab.

 When asked why others should consider the early childhood profession, Brandy referred to the children and said, “These are the people who will take care of us, take care of our world. Take the chance now to impact what we’ll have. Make a lasting impression. You can, and you will.”

 

July 2023

This month, the spotlight is on Tammy Moore, a lead teacher at the University School for Young Children in Cape Girardeau, MO.

As her son graduated high school, he asked her, “Why should I go to college when you didn’t?” Tammy recognized an opportunity to pursue her dream of higher education.

Tammy stated, “I wanted to show my children it’s never too late to follow your dreams.” 

Tammy Moore and her family.
Photo credit: Tammy Moore.

After 20 years of working retail, the store Tammy worked at closed. Tammy enrolled in the Child Care Guidance program at Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) with financial assistance, as the loss of her job qualified her for further support. Unemployment representatives guided her to a resource called SKILLUP. This program assisted with reimbursement for travel to and from classes. While attending SEMO, Tammy had the opportunity to be a student worker/lab student with the University School for Young Children. Together, these resources and opportunities allowed Tammy to complete her Child Care and Guidance associate degree in 2021.

Tammy is now preparing to graduate in December of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in child development. Since beginning her career at the University School for Young Children, Tammy has been promoted several times. She is now a lead teacher, and she feels more confident and inspired than ever. “I can proudly say that I will be the first in my family to graduate college! I hope that my journey inspires others to do the same.” 

June 2023

The spotlight this month is on Toni Reynolds. After high school, she enrolled at UMKC and graduated with a BA in Elementary Education. She had her heart set on being a 2nd or 3rd grade teacher. Toni shares that she was “desperately seeking employment” after college graduation. 

She had friends recommend applying for a home visiting position. Toni explained that she had no idea what home visiting entailed, but she knew it involved working with children so she decided “it could be a fill-in job” until she found a teaching position. She was hired on with Triality (now Easterseals Midwest) in November of 2010 as a parent educator.

Toni worked in the role of parent educator for 11 years. She exclaims, “switching to home visiting was the best thing I have ever done in my life. That is why I stayed. After a year and half into it, I told myself I was going to keep doing it and see where it goes”. Toni shared that an opportunity came up when Easterseals received an expansion grant in 2021 for 21 counties in Missouri. She was mentoring alongside other parent educators in preparation of their expansion. Six months later she was hired for a management position.

For someone who once wanted to be a classroom teacher, Toni shared that she wished someone had shown her other occupations in Early Childhood, like home visiting. In her position today, she has been able to provide prenatal support along with helping children and mothers. Toni said it is important to share the impact that parent educators have on the early childhood field and is passionate about the work she does every day.

Chelsey Wright
Photo Credit: Chelsey Wright

May 2023

Chelsey Wright is an early childhood leader who found support in her professional growth and overcame obstacles to follow her dream. During high school, Chelsey enrolled in a dual credit early childhood program at the Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) and worked in a preschool classroom at their Early Childhood Education Center.

During this time, Chelsey entered a Skills USA competition in early childhood education. The contest consists of a knowledge exam and skills performance. Chelsey received 1st place at state level competition and 6th place at national level competition. With her 1st place award, she received a full scholarship to OTC. She says that the scholarship motivated her to go to college.

Two years after completing high school, Chelsea graduated with her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Development. Upon graduation, she accepted an assistant teacher position at the OTC Early Childhood Education Center. Chelsea says life became crazy and going back to school to finish a bachelor’s degree seemed impossible, but she earned a bachelor's degree in Child and Family Development. “It was a long and hard journey, but the T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI scholarship took an impossible situation and made it happen.” After completing her degree, Chelsey returned to work at the OTC Center as a lead teacher, and she went on to earn a master’s certificate in early childhood business and leadership through a T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI scholarship. She attributes her successful career to the supports she received along this journey. “I cannot put into words the blessing and impact this has made on my life. I love being a teacher and I cannot wait to see what comes next.”

Hannibal Career & Technical Center students
Photo Credit: Hannibal Career & Technical Center

 

April 2023

Hannibal Career & Technical Center offers a high school Teaching Professions class, designed for students who are interested in pursuing a career in education. 

During the practicum portion, students obtain over 75 observation hours in a variety of classrooms, including every grade level from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade, as well as special education classes.

Students in the class recently attended the DESE Conference on the Young Years (CYY). Attending CYY was a valuable experience for the students in the Teaching Professions class. CYY provided the students a unique opportunity to learn from experienced professionals in the field, to broaden their understanding of early childhood education, and to gain practical skills that will help them succeed in their future careers as early childhood professionals. 

 

child care staff members at the Bowling Green R-I School District.
Photo Credit: Bowling Green R -1 School District

March 2023

This month, the spotlight is on child care staff members at the Bowling Green R-I School District. The district in northeast Missouri is in its second year of offering a child care program for staff in their district. 

The district assessed the needs of their community and collaborated with other child care stakeholders to determine this approach was a win-win for both the community and the district. This child care center serves children from birth to age 3, at which time the children transition to the district’s preschool program until age 5. The child care program has grown from 6 children the first year to 30 children in the second year.

In addition to working to increase teacher salaries locally, creating this child care option for teachers was a key workforce recruitment and retention tool for the district. Superintendent Dr. Matt Frederickson said in the last three years teacher attrition rates in the school district have decreased from 11 percent to under 4 percent. 

Teachers pay tuition at a rate equivalent to the average cost of the local providers. Additionally, the district’s child care program is a place for high school students participating in A+ and Child Development classes to gain extra experience with opportunities for service hours.

 

Donna Sheidt
Photo Credit: News Tribune, Jefferson City, MO

February 2023

This month, the spotlight is on Donna Scheidt, the executive director of Little Explorers Discovery Center in Jefferson City, MO.
Years ago, Donna learned about the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) for educators in licensed child care programs. 

Since 2003, Donna and the Little Explorers Discovery Center has sponsored ten child care educators through the T.E.A.C.H. program. All ten educators earned their Child Development Associate® Credential (CDA), including two going on to earn Associates degrees and two earning Bachelor’s degrees.

Donna shared, "The T.E.A.C.H. program is wonderful for working professionals to get their education. It also improves the quality of any child care program. It has reduced the stress in my life by helping my staff get the education they need in order to run a quality child care program. It has allowed our Center to remain accredited and it has helped us maintain quality standards in child care." 

Learn more about the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship