On September 29, 2021, Maria Sanchez made the graduation address to the first graduating class of the Camp Fire Early Education Apprenticeship Program (EEAP). Here are her words of advice and encouragement to her fellow (and future) graduates.
As we all know, early childhood educators are overlooked and placed on the back burner when it comes to recognition and educating children. Many think of us as babysitters, but I know what we do classifies us as more. By teaching children at their most crucial years of learning, we are important in shaping these young minds’ development. Having this opportunity to expand on our learning, sharpens our knowledge to teach these children, empowers us with new materials for us to implement into our classrooms, in our lesson plans and making them more school-ready. This will give us a better understanding to find different ways to reach all children because everyone learns at a different pace and in different ways. Empowering us to plant those seeds for these children to grow in their early childhood learning and into adulthood, makes us an important asset to early childhood learning.
When I started this journey to higher education it empowered me to relate to children and mentor others. Using encouragement, guidance, and sharing new ideas with others who want help. I was excited to see there came a chance for me to expand on my education. Being in the business as long as I have been, I have attended many training sessions and have received lots of the same information. I always look for new information and was excited when Campfire came up with this apprenticeship program. I liked the idea I would build onto the education I had already earned. I love the ladies who were our teachers. They are passionate about what they do. Especially when teaching us the material. There have been many times Ms. Sharlene would get on her soapbox when teaching her favorite topics. (lol) When it comes to my mentor Ms. Jeanna, she is very encouraging, easy to talk to and willing to offer support. I love the idea of playing it safe with zoom meetings and being able to see my classmates. Ms. Margaret had her cup ready to place our names in the cup for the drawing at the end of class. Oh, by the way, you will be able to win multiple times! We were able to chat with my classmates in the breakout rooms. We discussed our homework assignments, what we did in our classrooms or for our projects, how it went, and what we could do differently. It could be a little challenging at times with my mentor observing me in my classroom because the children wanted to entertain her as well. They like to explore new things and love being sociable with other adults even while on an iPad. By going through this apprenticeship, I learned more about my weaknesses and how to fine-tune my teaching skills. I believe having these programs offered to us gives us a unique opportunity to make a difference in educating children and raise the bar in our worth as early childhood educators.
The saying is “If you are in this business for the money, you are in the wrong business.” You got to be in it for the children. With these programs being offered, it is now time to raise that bar to also be in it for your own professional growth. I had an amazing time with these ladies and my classmates. Now it is time for me to continue with my higher learning. We are making history and I am glad I am here to make a difference. Rather you are new to this profession or been in it for years, there is something for everyone. Encourage your co-workers to jump on this opportunity, to grab what is ours.