Inspiring Future Educators
High-quality early childhood education programs, such as Early Head Start, Head Start, and NC Pre-K, play a crucial role in benefiting children and communities. These programs have been shown to contribute to children’s success in school, reduce the likelihood of engaging in criminal activities, decrease the number of special needs, promote community engagement, and lead to better life choices and increased productivity as adults.
WNCSource offers Early Head Start, Head Start and NC Pre-K programs in Henderson, Transylvania, Rutherford and Polk counties. Unfortunately, the ongoing shortage of teachers and early childhood professionals has resulted in classroom closures and reduced enrollment. To address this issue and increase the number of children and families served, WNCSource has formed a partnership with Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC).
The ECE Apprenticeship program is a unique initiative that allows eligible high school graduates and adult learners to simultaneously earn a wage while receiving education and training both in the college classroom and on the job. This program represents a collaborative effort to address the current teacher shortage and support the ECE workforce.
Linda Carter is the Children’s Services Director at WNCSource. Brenda Blackburn is a Child and Family Specialist, and Dean for Business and Service Careers at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC). The two women have been friends for almost two decades and have worked together to develop the ECE Apprenticeship program and improve Early Childhood Education (ECE) as a profession.
Carter said that, “Since Covid, recruiting talented people has been especially challenging. The ECE Apprenticeship program with BRCC and WNCSource seeks to help rebuild the Early Childhood Educator pipeline and replace those who have left the field.” Dean Blackburn added “the partnership aims to enhance the perception of early childhood educators and attract exceptional candidates to the profession.”
The ECE Apprenticeship program, made possible with the support of The Dogwood Health Trust, is an innovative solution to the teacher shortage. By providing aspiring educators with a combination of formal education and on-the-job training, the program will elevate the profession and promote positive outcomes for children during their critical early learning years and beyond.
For more information about WNCSource’s Children’s Services including how to enroll in a Head Start, Early Head Start or NC Pre-K program, please visit our website, www.wncsource.org. For more information about the ECE Apprenticeship program, visit the Blue Ridge Community College website, www.blueridge.edu.