Ernestine Barnes was introduced to the Early Learning Center through a local employment agency- the AARP Foundation Senior Community Service Employment Program. This program provides short-term, work-training to prepare participants for unsubsidized employment. Over the years Steepletown has offered employment to many older adults through this training program.
After a car accident left her unable to continue at her job back in the early 90’s, for the next 20 years Ernestine worked as a licensed childcare provider, mostly working in the childrens’ homes. And so when she was introduced to the Early Learning Center in late November, she knew that this was likely a good fit due to her love for working with kids.
Ernestine spent the month of December going through all the necessary background checks, completing the training required by licensing, and jumping into a classroom of 4 year-olds to see if this was something she really wanted to pursue. As she states: “I knew it wasn’t going to be an entirely new experience and yet the level of skills needed as a preschool teacher is so much more than I did before.” Ernestine is ready to take on this new opportunity. In January she enrolled in the coursework to earn the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, which is a minimum standard that ensures that an early childhood educator can effectively create and support a quality learning environment for children. And she now works full-time at the ELC as an apprentice.
“A couple weeks ago I taught one of the children how to play dominos. I was impressed with the strategies she came up with to win. And yesterday as work-time was ending, she was beating me 141-40. It is amazing to see how smart this little girl is, and she is fully bilingual, which is impressive.”
When asked if her age has been a factor, she states: “I can keep up with them until they want me to run around and chase them during outdoor learning- I can for a moment, but they don’t have a “bad” back like I do.”
Ernestine is one of the newest staff to embark on the early childhood educator registered apprenticeship training program. Steepletown is the local Sponsor Organization with the Department of Labor. Ernestine is an amazing example of how it is never too late to take on a new career, and in this case, one that truly helps out the community in so many ways!