- Jefferson Junior/Senior High in Denver's Edgewater suburb is recruiting students into early-childhood career pathways with a new year-long internship program that ends with students receiving entry-level certification as assistant preschool or child care teachers from Red Rocks Community College, additionally requiring them to take two early-childhood classes, Chalkbeat reports.
- The program helps pave the way for further postsecondary credentialing for students interested in early-childhood careers and builds into a three-year plan from the state to strengthen the pre-K educator pool.
- Among potential challenges is keeping students engaged and committed when the field comes with low pay and high turnover, but the district is expecting enrollment to more than double next year — and expansion to McLain Community and Arvada West high schools is also on the horizon in the next two years.
With both teacher shortages and the need to offer students opportunities to earn usable credentials straight out of high school a consistent presence in educational debates, this suburban Denver program's timing couldn't be better. As states also move to expand access to early-childhood education, programs like this could be the answer to meeting workforce needs.
The program also stands to benefit from recruiting local students into the early-childhood career pool, meaning that programs can hire early educators who understand the community and can relate to the children and families that they serve.
Of course, Jefferson Junior/Senior High's internship program isn't alone on this front. Districts are increasingly adding Child Development Associate credential programs as part of their career and technical education programs.