Lindsey Williams says her decision to study early childhood education at JCC was definitely the right one.

An assistant teacher in the college’s Child Development Center, Williams is fulfilling her passion to help children develop and thrive.

“It’s definitely a rewarding job,” she said. “You know at the end of the day you are trying to do your best to make sure these children are prepared to go to school.”

JCC offers many educational options for students desiring to become childhood educators. In addition to the two-year degree, the college offers degree pathways for students who wish to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education as well as become a licensed teacher for children from birth to kindergarten.

Students can get started as early as high school through early childhood education courses offered through the Career and College Promise (CCP) dual-enrollment program.

The college is also a partner with NC State and Johnston County Public Schools in a new associate in science (teacher education concentration) degree program that aims to train teachers for classrooms in Johnston County.

For students seeking employment in a year or less or want to specialize in the program, JCC offers a diploma as well as certificates in infant/toddler care, early childhood preschool and early childhood administration.

JCC’s program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and is home to a five-star Child Development Center, which serves children ages 12 months to 5 years old.

Tonia Padrick, department chair of education programs, said the center plays an important role in JCC’s early childhood education curriculum. Students in the associate in applied science degree program spend well over 400 hours observing and interacting with young children during their completion of the program. They are required to complete 144 hours in one practicum experience alone.

“Our center is a lab school, and we use it to help our students as well as other students observe quality care and education of young children,” she said.

“Our center is a model site in this county,” Padrick added. “People observe our CDC to see various teaching methods and positive interactions with young children that enhance learning. We try to stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in our field so that we are showcasing what’s appropriate for young children.”

Miranda McCarver is pursing her preschool/infant toddler certificate and hopes to one day teach kindergarten.

She said patience and flexibility are two important qualities for childhood educators. “This program is very informative and the instructors have a wealth of knowledge,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot in just a short amount of time and I apply it every day.”

Williams said the program teaches students how to develop each child as an individual.

“You learn how to adapt your teaching styles so that you can fit the needs of each child,” she said. “You learn to hold yourself to professional standards, have open communication with families, and deal with different behaviors.”

JCC also offers Effective Teacher Training, a two-week online course for individuals interested in substituting in Johnston County public school classrooms, as well as Teacher Assistant, a two-month program to train teacher assistants in Johnston County.

Finally, the college offers a convenient schedule of online continuing education courses on a variety of topics for early care and education professionals.