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Congratulations Nellie Fuentes & Angela Zuniga

This week has been bookended well! On Monday morning Steepletown’s Preschool Director sent out an email that one of our teachers, Nellie Fuentes, completed her Child Development Associate Credential or CDA. Nellie has been on staff at the Steepletown preschool for the past couple years, first working as an aide and more recently moving into the co-teacher position in one of the 4 year-old rooms. Nellie grew up here on the West Side and was in Steepletown’s youth employment programs back in high school. A couple years ago when she moved back to the West Side and reconnected with Steepletown to see how we could assist her in finding some employment. And now she is teaching the children of many of her neighbors and her nephew as well.
And now here it’s Friday afternoon and just a few minutes ago a text was received from another of our preschool teachers, Angela Zuniga, who just received word that she also passed the CDA. She took the written exam last week and completed the observation portion of the requirements yesterday. Angela was one of the original teachers Steepletown hired in 2013 when it opened its first preschool classroom. She had over 10 years of experience working in childcare settings and had taken many classes in early childhood education at GRCC. Angela also grew up here on the West Side and her nephew and niece are also current students.
There is a familiar expression that is often used by the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative which provides much of the technical and financial support for Steepletown’s Preschool. That expression is “growing our own”. Steepletown currently has two of its recent GED graduates working as preschool aides as part of their CDA training, and two current GED students also working at the preschool as classrooms aides. This is a necessary requirement of earning the CDA, i.e. 480 hours of supervised experiential learning in a licensed facility. Steepletown is intentional about providing these paid opportunities to these young adults who cannot afford to just go to school to become a teacher. It really is an apprenticeship model and seems to work well as Steepletown continues to “grow our own”. Congratulations to Nellie and Angela!!