Editor’s note – This article is one of a series of feature stories from Southern State Community College highlighting alumni and the specific degree programs they completed.
Lori Dove, a recent graduate of Southern State Community College, shared that watching a teacher interact with her son, who has autism, inspired her to pursue a career in education. Although getting an education was second in line to raising her son, Dove said she believed in what preschool teachers do and that she wanted to have a positive impact on young children just like her son’s teacher.
Four years later, Dove graduated with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Southern State. The degree normally takes two years to complete, but Dove said that spending time with her son was a priority.
“Enrolling in the early childhood program at Southern State was the best decision I ever made. I learned it is never too late to reach your goals,” she said.
Now in her second year of teaching at a private preschool in Wilmington, Dove related how Southern State gave her the flexibility she needed to obtain her degree while also taking her son to therapy appointments. As a new teacher, Dove said she is very busy and that Southern State prepared her well to face the challenges and enjoy the rewards of teaching young children.
Becky Storer, SSCC associate professor, provides the leadership for the education program at the college. She explained that there are multiple options in the education department for people who want to work with children via their completion of the associate’s degree in applied science or through the completion of the associate of arts degree, designed to transfer to four-year teacher education programs.
“We have articulation agreements with many of our regional four-year institutions, which makes the transfer process easy for our graduates,” said Storer. “Regardless of what age or grade level you would like to teach, you can complete your first two years of college here at Southern State.”
“Our situation at Southern State is unique in the fact that our classes have the perfect combination of students,” Storer continued. “For example, I have many high school students or recent graduates who are very tech-savvy, but do not have hands-on experience working with children. Conversely, my nontraditional students have children of their own and can easily relate to the child development concepts discussed in class. So while each group considers the other to have the advantage, they really just complement each other, which creates the perfect learning environment.”
Storer said that the job market is looking promising with many of the baby boomers retiring from teaching.
“This is an exciting time for college students who want to enter the field of education. We need more people who have the desire to work with children of all ages,” she said.
Personally, Storer said that she loves teaching children and adults alike, and that she sees that passion for teaching in her students.
“I think what has drawn me to this field is impacting future generations of teachers,” Storer said. “Seeing students like Lori Dove succeed and reach their goals is so rewarding.”
Dove added, “Going back to school and earning my degree at Southern State has enriched my life. I love my job working with young children.”
For more information about Southern State’s Teacher Education Program, visit www.sscc.edu, email Becky Storer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800.628.7722, Ext. 2628.
David Wright is a local journalist and freelance writer.