With a deep-seated appreciation for maintaining relationships, fostering empathy, and instilling positive values, Becca Harris has found her life's calling in educating the younger generations as an early childhood educator.
Becca Harris Charts Her Path In Early Childhood Education as Teacher and Student
She is passionate about teaching preschool students. “I love teaching because it's working on the relationship, teaching little humans how to be good humans, and it's the care and the empathy they share with you,” she said.
In December 2023, Becca will receive her associate degree in early childhood education from Aims Community College. She has already completed certificates through the college, including early childhood education entry, early childhood teacher, and early childhood director. Through her work at Aims, she is now a licensed Childcare Director through the State of Colorado. She’s worked at the Blooming Littles Learning Center in Milliken, Colorado for five years. Becca is now the lead teacher in the classroom for children ages four and five.
A career in early childhood education fell into her lap, Becca said. She had initially aspired to be a nurse but then got a job working with schoolchildren in her hometown of Laramie, Wyoming and decided that was the direction she wanted to follow. Becca married her high school sweetheart and moved to Colorado due to his job. She had jobs at other childcare centers and took time off to be a stay-at-home mom with her two young children.
She finds that the connections she made with students and families personally enriching. “It's the relationships, the families that I've bonded with. I get to see their kids grow up. I'm still in touch with the kiddos I worked with in Laramie. I got to see most of those kids graduate high school. I still talk to some of those families.” Becca’s perspective and orientation towards interpersonal relationships extend into the classroom.
“I teach children how to play together, how to learn social and emotional skills, and how to use those social and emotional skills to tell their friends what they need or if they're upset and how to explain those feelings.”
She is very proud of her work and works to dispel many preconceived notions about preschools being just a daycare designed just for babysitting. Early childhood education is crucial to a child’s overall development and is vital in nurturing curiosity and fostering a lifelong love of learning. Becca’s favorite part of working with children is seeing them learn and grow while grasping new skills. Preschool sets a foundation for future schooling with the basics of math, reading and writing. “It all starts in a preschool setting," she said.
Education at Aims Taking It to the Next Level
To keep progressing in her career, Becca needed additional credentials and qualifications to advance. This included certificate and degree programs that Aims offers through the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Department.
She chose Aims because many people recommended the program to her. They praised the small class sizes at the college. People also recognized the flexibility and that students can go at their own pace and take a part-time schedule if needed. Becca also heard that the people at Aims are “very personable” and “down to earth.” She found all these things true and is grateful that she chose Aims.
One of the things that Becca enjoyed about the program was its ability to work with her busy lifestyle. “With having two young children at home, it was nice that I could take some classes online,” she said. Becca also appreciated in-person evening classes to fit them into her schedule. “I could work a full day and my husband could get off work and then I could still attend class.”
“I love Aims and the community that it brings. There's something about Aims that gives you that higher education, but the small-town community feeling, and that's what I love about it.”
While she appreciated the flexibility of online and evening classes and on-campus resources, Becca’s favorite aspect of her Aims experience is the relationships and ties she developed over the years.
“The friendships I've built because of Aims is tremendous,” she said. Becca made lifelong friends in some of her classes with others juggling parenthood, working full-time and taking college classes. Knowing others were dealing with the same issues made her feel less alone in this journey.
In addition to friendships with classmates, Becca also bonded with the faculty. “They're not just my instructors; they're my friends,” she said when talking about ECE department chair Christine Wiedeman and professor Laura Killen-Wing. “They know my kids by name and they know my husband by name. I'm not just another student to them. I am one of them and they treat me as such.”
The ECE instructors treat the students like adults and professionals in the field. She feels like the classes provide the tools to teach with real-world applications. Becca feels free to call on them for advice on what is happening in her preschool classroom and to get an outside perspective.
This program has led Becca to grow professionally as a teacher. “It made me a better teacher based upon all of the knowledge that I've gained, as well as the friendships that I've built. I'm not just alone being a teacher. I am part of a teaching community and I have all these resources that I can use and pull from and ask questions and it's like a constant sounding board that you can bounce ideas off of.”
Becca has had other development opportunities through her time at Aims as well, like attending the Building Blocks” Roadway to Success Conference by Weld County Early Childhood Council. Speakers from across the state discussed trends and best practices in early childhood education. “You’re in a room full of educators that are in the thick of it; you're on the same wavelengths.”
After graduation, Becca will continue teaching at Blooming Littles. She aspires to one day work as an early childhood director of a large center. Aims has given her the knowledge and credentials to help her achieve her goals.
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