Tuesday, September 08, 2009
CNM To Expand Education Degrees
By Martin Salazar
Journal Staff Writer
With the renewed push for more early childhood education programs across the state and nationally, Central New Mexico Community College has launched a new degree and certificate program aimed at training more students in those fields.
"The more research that comes out, the more we learn how important those early childhood years are to setting the foundation for academic achievement, (and) for many other things as well," said Erica Volkers, director of education programs at CNM. "Unfortunately, there is not a highly educated early childhood work force, and that's true nationally."
The CNM programs are called early childhood multicultural education. Students can now earn associate degrees from the college with specializations for those who want to become birth- through third-grade teachers; early childhood program administrators; and early childhood home visitors the people who work with children at risk for developmental delays.
The college is also offering a certificate in child development, which helps satisfy the entry-level professional requirements for teachers already working in a classroom setting with preschool children.
CNM students pursuing the birth- through third-grade concentration can work as early childhood teachers in the private sector or as teacher's aides in an elementary school. Those interested in becoming elementary school teachers must transfer to a university and complete a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.
New Mexico's colleges and universities have been collaborating on a statewide early childhood education curriculum for about 2 1/2 years. CNM says its classes are fully transferable to any college or university in New Mexico with an early childhood associate's or bachelor's degree.
While CNM students have been able to take early childhood classes in the past, CNM is now offering a standalone degree.
The associate's degree takes about two years to complete for a full-time student. The certificate can be earned in a year.
Volkers said that until now there hasn't been much available in New Mexico in terms of specialized training for early childhood administrators and for interventionists who work with young children who have developmental delays or are at risk for them.
Volkers said much of the training for administrators was done one-on-one through mentoring from colleagues. The early childhood interventionists, she said, often received training through workshops and professional development, but the training wasn't sustained.
"I think it's just so gratifying to see that both statewide and national conversations are finally (focusing on) what is it that we need to do to improve early childhood education," Volkers said. "And I actually think that New Mexico is going to be a model in starting to look at that. It's not to say we've solved it, but what we've done is we have this really strong framework in place to start answering those questions."