“I knew that there was more to learn and practice.” The value of Vermont’s ECE Apprenticeship Program

Two red haired women, one younger and shorter in white and one taller in blue, stand smiling against a wall with shiny art

by Paula Nadeau

Happy National Apprenticeship Week!

I am so grateful to be able to share some of my journey in this incredibly rewarding field of early childhood education. When I started working in ECE, I was subbing, part-time after school, where I was in an unrelated career and technical education program.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I fell in love with working with young children. There was no going back from that moment on. As soon as I graduated high school, I moved into a CDA credential program and obtained my Child Development Associate degree with a focus on infant and toddler care.

I knew that there was more to learn and practice. My program director saw my passion and offered to be my mentor for the Vermont Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program.

That wasn’t enough for me. I knew that there was more to learn and practice. My program director saw my passion and offered to be my mentor for the Vermont Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program and I joined the program in late 2007 with a cohort of my peers.

I can not say enough about the cohort that I had. These people shared an experience with me and we supported each other. The support of this cohort and my amazing mentor allowed me to fully put my new knowledge into practice immediately. I know this had an extraordinary impact on my ability to retain the skills and ultimately be a better educator.

Fast forward to now, I have my BA in Human Services focusing on Early Childhood Education and a long, fulfilling career working in direct care with children and families.

I also have the most incredible opportunity to come full circle and work at VTAEYC as the ECE Workforce Development Specialist, working with the current apprentices, mentors, and sponsors of the Vermont Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program.

Now that I am focused on the implementation of this critical program, it continues to encourage my educational growth in my current master’s degree program for Higher Education Administration.

With Apprenticeship at the forefront of many national workforce development conversations, I am so happy to be supporting Vermont’s program and doing my part to ensure that registered apprenticeships like the one I took part in remain relevant to the workforce and accessible to the passionate educators that we have in Vermont.

Paula Nadeau is the Early Childhood Education Workforce Development Specialist at VTAEYC.

In 2010, Paula graduated from the Vermont Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program. She’s pictured above (left) at her Apprenticeship graduation with her mentor, Judy Bergeron.