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.
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. You can view previous editions of the Spotlight on Professionals as well.
This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on Carron Miesner, a parent educator serving Clay County, Missouri with Easterseals Midwest.
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.”
This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on 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.”
This month’s “Spotlight on Professionals” focuses on Brandy Jones, director of the Child Development Laboratory at St. Louis Community College.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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 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.
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.
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.