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Next Up: Early Childhood Teacher

“I never even knew that it was possible to get a degree this fast. I didn't really think I would go to college and finding Tyler changed that drastically.”

Growing up in rural Sussex County, Madeline Chase thought going to college was a world away.

Then she saw how Tyler’s early childhood program would give her practical skills to start working with young children in as little as two years.

Now three early childhood credentials later, she’s weighing her many options—from pursuing her bachelor’s in education to getting right to work as a preschool teacher.

Here’s how she transformed her career outlook:

Find your fit

Madeline knew she wanted to teach kids, but she couldn't fathom the amount of time and money it would take to become a grade school teacher.

"The idea of having to go away to college and rack up tons of debt really intimidated me," she said.

After a friend encouraged her to explore options at Tyler, she found that she could earn a shorter-term credential and work with kids right away.

"I never even knew that it was possible to get a degree this fast," Madeline said. "I didn't really think I would go to college but finding John Tyler changed that drastically."

Practice your skills

Because Madeline spent her high school years home-schooled, she was anxious about creating a classroom environment fit for public school settings. From classroom organization to curriculum development to conflict resolution, Tyler's program prepared her for helping kids learn to read in a classroom setting very different from her home-schooled experience.

For one of her projects, Madeline created her ideal literacy center in Tyler's simulated early childhood classroom. She claimed a cozy corner in the classroom to set up her reading nook.

"That room is so much fun," Madeline said. "There's all kinds of furniture in there that you would actually see in a childcare center. It's a really great way to see what we will be facing in the workforce."

In her favorite class, Language Arts for Young Children, she practiced reading a children's book to her classmates, enunciating carefully and adding character voices as if she were reading to children.

"You'd be surprised by how much adults genuinely enjoy being read to like they're kids," Madeline chuckled.

Get real teaching experience

Before she graduates, she’ll have classroom experience in three different schools.

For her first practicum, she observed a class of 3-year-olds at a child development center in Bon Air. She added more skills in her second practicum, teaching lessons to preschoolers at Beulah Elementary School in Chesterfield.

“Going to that childcare center for the first time was really taking a step in the field without having to jump in and be overwhelmed by it,” Madeline said. “I've never been in a public school setting, so this is super new and important for me in deciding where I want my focus to be—whether that means getting my bachelor’s or going into a Head Start or larger-scale child development program.”

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