Have you been considering going back to school for a degree in early childhood education? Hear from fellow ECE professional Ysidro Holmes discuss his path to higher education and the support available through the Arizona Early Childhood Network.
Why did you choose to pursue a degree in early childhood education?
I chose to pursue a degree in early childhood education to have autonomy in my profession. I am passionate about my work and I wanted to gain the knowledge that academia had to offer me. I pursued a degree for more opportunities and mobility in the field.
What lead you to the First Things First Scholarship and why did you choose this path instead of other funding?
When I first started my journey at Second Street Children’s School, the director pointed me towards an advisor at Pima Community College, Shanna Kukla. Shanna came to meet with me at my school and told me about the First Things First Scholarship opportunity that I was eligible to receive. I had no other way of paying for school so applying for the FTF Scholarship was the only way I was able to break the financial barrier of attaining my degree. The scholarship access to money was one thing, there are other barriers to early educators completing degrees that were as significant as the money. An example of that was math, the scholarship was able to pay for the class and other supports were critical for me to be successful in school. Supports such as a math class exclusively for early childhood students, Somos Enlace early childhood student organization, and an advisor that can come to my place of work to go through an education plan with me on a lunch break.
How do you use the Arizona Early Childhood Registry to further your education and/or career?
I use the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry to further my education and career by applying for scholarships, looking for professional development opportunities and uploading any professional development hours I have completed to keep track of throughout the year. If REWARD$ are available in Pima county my career lattice determines the amount of the reward. As an early childhood educator with a degree in the field my lattice level is E3.
How does attaining a degree change the perception of early childhood educators?
In my experience, attaining a degree in early childhood changed my confidence in my work that is directly tied to degree completion. The research shows that children have more opportunities to thrive in environments where teachers have degrees. For the profession, teachers with degrees further the professionalization of the field.
How can the AZ Registry and Early Childhood Network support early childhood professionals?
The AZ Registry and Early Childhood Network can support early childhood professionals by continued funding in degree completion and expanding funding of bachelor degrees. Continue and expand retention strategies such as REWARD$ in all regions. Lastly, continue the process of defining professional identity within the Registry.
Ysidro has been working in the early childhood field for seven years. He is a student studying early childhood education and is the president of a student lead organization “Somos Enlace” whose mission is to connect students with resources and relationships to thrive as early childhood professionals. Ysidro is a teacher at Second Street Children’s School–a non-profit, play-based school in Tucson, AZ. As a lifelong learner, Ysidro is passionate about organized activism for children, Inclusivity, and higher education.