Shalom Austin JCC Early Childhood Program Partners with Austin Community College | Shalom Austin

Shalom Austin JCC Early Childhood Program Partners with Austin Community College

The Jewish Outlook

Jul 20, 2022

Twenty one ECP educators follow their first ACC CDA class together From left to right: 

Back row: Beth Lynn Campbell, Rosa Maria Alvarez, Travis Heggen, Francisco Rodriguez, Susan Slomowitz, Brittney Weir, Shereen Ben-Moshe, Katherine Ramirez, Wayne Summerset II, May Bodi, Christiana Huerta, Jacqueline Martinez, Claire Cantrell-Paulson 

Front row:Annajose Calderon, Emalie Hardcastle, Dganit Buzzetti, Ashley Stroud, Dana Baruch, Danielle Rodriguez, Kathryn, Kiya Osha. Credit: Claire Cantrell-Paulson 

By Dana Baruch, ECP Faculty Mentor 

Shalom Austin JCC Early Childhood Program is excited about the new professional development plans that will benefit the dedicated ECP educators. ECP’s administrative team has been working over the past few months with key representatives from Austin Community College to build a unique partnership. This includes the Dean, the Department Chair of Education Instruction, Child Care and Development and the Assistant Department Chair of Child Care and Development. In other words, in an effort to make this project a huge success, ACC put their most influential people on the team. 

This partnership will enable Shalom Austin to become a site for ECP educators to take their courses toward the Child Development Associate program – a national level certification. This course will be taught by ECP Faculty Mentor Dana Baruch, who works regularly with the teachers to support and help them grow professionally. The course will take place weekly at the ECP at the end of the school day. The ACC team will also work with faculty members who are interested in continuing with their associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees. ECP says it anticipates a strong CDA cohort of 20+ participants. 

ECP is no exception to the ubiquitous challenges most early childhood centers face with hiring and retaining enough qualified teachers to fill their classrooms. One difference, however, is that as employees of Shalom Austin, ECP educators enjoy strong benefits that seem to be making a difference. This includes a committed Shalom Austin board that enabled ECP to raise pay rates considerably, fully paid membership to Shalom Austin JCC, an exceptional benefits package for those working 30 hours or more, an incredibly supportive parent body, an integrated relationship with Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service, and an administrative team that goes out of its way to support, encourage, and say “yes” whenever possible. And now, they can add this continuing professional education opportunity to the list. 

Rabbi Hillel QuoteThe cost of tuition and books will be covered through the Teacher Training, Retention, and Compensation scholarship program. The program is a partnership between ACC, the City of Austin, Travis County, Workforce Solutions Capital Area and local childcare providers. The Teacher Education and Compensation Helps Scholarship will cover the cost of the national assessment, once the teachers have completed all three semesters of their CDA studies. ECP teachers who do complete the program and choose to remain at the school will receive additional financial compensation. 

With this new ACC continuing education “perk,” the ECP educators say they feel cared for and can look forward to growing professionally in their chosen field so they can offer an even higher quality learning experience to the children and their families. ECP toddler teacher Claire Cantrell-Paulson explains, “I always wanted to finish my degree, but my schedule and the cost got in the way. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to do this for not only myself, but also for my family and the school.” 

The ECP administrative team says it looks forward to attracting, developing, and retaining the strongest early childhood faculty in the area. According to ECP Director Shereen Ben-Moshe, “We are thrilled to be partnering with ACC to realize our dream of creating a learning cohort on campus for our teaching faculty. This will strengthen our team and the bond we share together.” 

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