At Dean, the Early Childhood Education program is preparing the educators who will help care for and shape future generations. Offering both a bachelor’s degree and associate degree, as well as field experience at the Children’s Center – a fully accredited early childhood program located directly on campus – the Early Childhood Education major enables students to pursue a number of career paths in the field. Many of our alumni and current students alike have found success as teachers and beyond.
Megan Bubier ’22 earned a bachelor’s degree in Dance and an associate degree in Early Childhood Education, and is now working as a five-day morning teacher at the Dean College Children’s Center. As a teacher, Megan is responsible for helping children learn through play and problem solving, collaborating with the Children’s Center team to set up various areas of the school related to the interests of the children, working with parents to find an approach that best supports their child, and planning activities and lessons for her classes. She credits both the classes she took at Dean as well as the support of her professors for helping prepare her for this career path.
“My professors set us up for success by giving us clear expectations of what working in the field was like and gave career options within the field of Early Childhood Education that does not necessarily require one to be in the classroom,” Megan explained. “During my time in the Early Childhood Education program at Dean, I was able to make many connections that have been beneficial to me and helped me to grow into the position I am currently in.”
In addition to teaching at the Children’s Center, Megan also works as a dance teacher for young children. Double majoring in Dance and Early Childhood Education is a common academic path for many students at Dean, further preparing them to work as a dance teacher or to develop skills that will support a classroom teaching role. Megan says that thanks to her double major, she is able to combine knowledge from both fields and apply them to each of her teaching roles.
“Having both degrees is tremendously helpful,” she said. “As a dance teacher, I have more of an awareness as to what is developmentally appropriate and possible for a young child. I also have methods of classroom behavior management that I learned at Dean and currently use in both my dance and preschool classes.”
In particular, Megan implements ideas and practices she learned in her Creative Movement for Young Children course into both her roles. “In that class, I learned just how impactful music and movement is for young children, whether it be in a dance studio or in a classroom,” she explained.
In addition, students have already landed jobs at their field placements from the past semester. Amanda Payne ’22, who graduated in December, is now an assistant teacher at Beginning Years in Medfield, MA, providing support for fellow teachers, creating curriculum for the Pre-K level children to help develop their learning skills, working with parents, solving conflicts, evaluating children, developing lesson plans and more. Meanwhile, Alyssa Lambert ’23 will be working as a Pre-K teacher at the Tobin Children’s School in Natick, MA, where she will work to provide a positive, developmentally appropriate environment for young children through enriching lessons and activities, supporting lead teachers, and participating in observations and assessment of the children she works with.
Both Amanda and Alyssa prepared for these jobs through their field experience placements and their work in the Children’s Center at Dean.
“I completed my student teaching at the Tobin Children’s School during the Fall 2022 semester, and it was such a positive experience,” Alyssa explained. “I had the opportunity to create lesson plans and do activities with the children, meet and converse with some of the families and learn a new way of observing and assessing children’s development utilizing Teaching Strategies GOLD. I especially gained confidence through completing my practicum at the Children’s Center at Dean. Being in the Children’s Center prior to the student teaching experience was essential because I gained positive skills from the teachers and professors there, including writing and implementing lesson plans, conflict management, social and emotional skills and collaborating with peers and staff.”
Similarly, Amanda also gained confidence and real-world experience that led her to her new job.
“Being able to spend so much time observing the lab school teachers and speaking with them helped me feel more comfortable in a classroom setting,” she said. “After being in the lab school, the professors recommended me to a job local to my hometown. Without being in that school, my professors would have not had the opportunity to be impressed with my classroom skills and I would have not ended up with this job.”
Amanda credits many of her Dean experiences – from her Early Childhood Education courses to her role as a three-year captain of the women’s volleyball team – with helping shape who she is now as a teacher.
“Being at a smaller college, I was able to have one-on-ones and create personal connections with each of my Early Childhood Education professors,” she said. “These professors work so hard every day to ensure that their students have every tool they need to be successful teachers. Each education class had a different purpose and created opportunities for trial and error.”
“Having the lab school on campus also helped prepare me for my career,” Amanda continued. “Building up hours each semester allowed me to gain patience for the children at a good pace. It creates a real-life environment to practice the skills learned in the classroom. We were also able to create lesson plans and see them in action. The athletics program also helped me prepare for future careers. As captain of the woman’s volleyball team, I learned how to be a leader, to stand up for those around me and how to work and communicate with others.”
Both Amanda and Alyssa are looking forward to continuing their time at their respective schools and to continue learning and growing as teachers.
“I’m most looking forward to seeing the developmental progression of my children,” Alyssa said. “I’m glad to have another semester with them to see their growth. I also just love being around the children, faculty and the Tobin environment.”
“I am most looking forward to being a part of a teaching team,” Amanda added. “The staff that I am going to be working with is such an amazing group of people. While I was student teaching, every teacher provided me with support and love. I also was able to observe well all the teachers in the learning center work together and create a community. I am never afraid to do anything wrong or try something new because of the support provided. Being able to work full-time where I am doing something I love while being surrounded by such uplifting individuals seems like a dream.”
While Megan, Amanda and Alyssa have all landed jobs as classroom teachers, the career paths for Early Childhood Education majors are vast, especially with the bachelor’s degree. In addition to classroom teaching for a childcare or preschool program, students can pursue careers in adoption support services or the foster care system; as inclusion coordinators or curriculum coordinators; as specialists in development support, community resources, child life, behavior, or infant mental health; as bilingual resource navigators and home visitors; and so much more. No matter what path students choose, Dean offers plenty of resources and support to help them their way.
“If I could offer a piece of advice to current or future Early Childhood Education majors, I would say don’t be afraid to ask questions!” Megan advised. “Your professors are there to help you and support you as you learn and eventually emerge into the field. Say yes to opportunities that are outside of your comfort zone and make connections. You never know where these opportunities and connections can take you. And most importantly, have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You are never expected to know it all, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”