A Flexible Pathway to a Rewarding Career: Early Childhood Education Program

posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 in  College News

Lindsey Ocheltree grew up wanting to become a teacher, but ultimately decided to pursue a different degree at a four-year university. She got married, started a family, and found herself working in jobs she didn’t love.

“When you have kids it kind of changes your perspective on things,” she said. “How am I going to tell them to follow their dreams if I just work jobs I don’t love just to have a job?”

Ocheltree decided to make a change, which brought her to the Early Childhood Education program at Hawkeye Community College. The program prepares students for a rewarding career nurturing the growth and development of young children in a variety of settings. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work with infants through preschool-aged children, including classroom management, child growth and development, infant and toddler care, and more.

Hawkeye’s program offered Ocheltree the training she needed with the flexibility of evening and online classes, helping her balance school with being a full-time mom with a full-time job.

“The teachers were really flexible with me,” she said. “They’ve been accommodating to make it work so I can do it all.”

Students in the Early Childhood Education program gain 240 hours of real-world work experience in Hawkeye’s Child Development Center, as well as in local preschools, Head Start, and early childhood programs.

“I had some great opportunities to have real in-the-classroom experience,” Ocheltree said. “I like that I worked with each age group in the field experience, from infants to preschoolers.”

Graduates of the program often find careers as teaching assistants, childcare workers, or preschool teachers in Head Start or private preschools. For students interested in a four-year degree, the Early Childhood Education coursework transfers to the Prekindergarten- Grade 3 major including Special Education at Upper Iowa University. Hawkeye also has transfer relationships with Wartburg College and Mount Mercy University.

After graduating from Hawkeye in May 2018, Ocheltree’s husband received a job promotion. She and her family relocated to Johnston, and she enrolled at Upper Iowa’s Des Moines campus. She also found a job as a para-educator for an Ankeny elementary school.

“I can’t say enough about how accommodating Hawkeye was and how convenient it was while working full time and raising three kids,” Ocheltree said. “I was nervous to go back to school as a 30-year-old, but there were a lot of people like me, working and raising a family.

I actually made some great friends.”

For more information about the Early Childhood Education program, call 319-296-4000 or visit www.hawkeyecollege.edu/connect-education.


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