Sixty-four students are now enrolled in an early childhood education course in a new initiative created through a partnership with Pathways for Children and North Shore Community College.

These adult students from Cape Ann and the North Shore were chosen from more than 200 applicants for the Career Pathways program.

This effort is funded by a state grant designed to foster career pathways in the field of early childhood education, and is provided through the Department of Early Education and Care. All classes are taught online due to the pandemic but would have been on location at the Pathways for Children in both Beverly and Gloucester.

As part of the grant, enrolled students received a Chromebook for their online assignments to ensure they had the technology to do the coursework. Students also received e-gift cards to purchase the textbooks and other materials. The course sections offered relate to child growth and development, and children with special needs.

This partnership was designed to offer college-level courses for those interested in beginning a career or moving up the career ladder in the field of early childhood education.

"This is a stepping stone," said Maureen Richards, the Education and Professional Development Manager at Pathways, which serves as a leading provider of early childhood education and care on the North Shore.

The Department of Early Education and Care recognized the need for having educated people who are knowledgeable about child development and early education working in the field with young children, she said.

"We are delighted to be partnering with Pathways for Children on this exciting initiative," said Kathy Gallo, who oversees the Career Pathways grant at North Shore Community College. "Although everything is currently online and running smoothly, I look forward to the day when we can offer some of our courses in Beverly and Gloucester to make it more convenient for students who are working in early education programs in and around Cape Ann."

Richards said this partnership stems from a desire to bring people into this field.

"People are recognizing that early childhood educators are an important part of the fabric of our society," she added. 

During this pandemic, parents and others have taken notice of the work of educators as parents across the country are sheltering in place with their children and seeing up-close all that goes into educating youngsters.

Richards, who also serves as project manager of Career Pathways, said both Pathways for Children centers underwent recent renovations to provide state-of-the-art learning environments for this partnership, which had to go virtual like all other learning during the pandemic.

“Pathways is very excited to partner with North Shore Community College to promote and expand professional development opportunities and higher education attainment for the critically important early education and care workforce," said Eric Mitchell, vice president of Pathways. "It’s a win for the students, a win for Pathways, and a win for the entire community."

For more information about Pathways for Children, visit www.pw4c.org.

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