Bridging the gap to higher education
Last month, ReWA’s Kent classroom was host to a dozen students proudly displaying their diploma in Child Care Basics, the first step in a career in early childhood education. Florence held her diploma and smiled, proudly. “I have 40 years of experience teaching, but without credentials it was difficult to get a job.”
ReWA program coordinator, Sara Cooley said, “Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and life experience: Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Central America. Some have raised their own families and are looking for a second career outside the home, and others are just starting careers.
Until last August, this meant they could complete the CCB class and work as an assistant teacher, but new state rules require assistant teachers to have high school diploma, GED and ECE Initial Certificate within five years of their hire date.
Starting January 2020, ReWA offers two courses to help students meet these requirements. For English Language Learners (ELL) level 2 students the 10-week STARS Child Care Basics course is the first step. They practice English, build ECE vocabulary, and learn about US work culture. It is also a pathway to I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training), a solid foundation for ELL students to pass the GED test and advance to college courses.
Cooley is enthusiastic about the new courses at ReWA. “By hosting classes in the Kent office, ReWA is bridging the gap between technical colleges and the clients who need them.”
She added, “Some of the students don’t picture themselves going to college—this new course includes the basics of filling out applications, paperwork, and field trips to college campuses, so they can feel comfortable on campus.”
Once students have completed Child Care Basics course and reached ESL level 3, they can enroll in the ECE Initial Certificate course, also taught at ReWA’s Kent office, in partnership with North Seattle College. After completion of the CCB and Initial ECE course, students have all the tools and certificates needed to advance in a career.
Just ask Florence: she now works as an assistant teacher in Auburn, and plans to enroll in the Initial Certificate course. “Working with young children is very challenging, but I enjoy it very much.”