First four-year grads to toss caps

Jayline Quintana, Contributing Writer

As graduation season approaches, Dallas College prepares to graduate its first cohort of the four-year Childhood Development/Early Childhood Education program. Students will graduate with a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education and teaching.

Although students will have to return the following fall semester to complete their one-year alternative teacher certification program, they will be able to work as the “teacher on record.”

Dallas College’s education program initially offered associate degrees in teaching and was expanded to a four-year program in the Fall 2021 semester. The program currently has around a thousand students enrolled, and is expected to continue growing.

Robert DeHaas, the vice provost of the School of Education, said, “From this spring to last spring the program experienced about 75% enrollment growth.”

The apprentice program is a union between Dallas College and local school districts and programs such as Dallas ISD, Richardson ISD, Uplift Education and others, which give every senior-level student the opportunity to participate in a paid learning experience.

“They don’t have to decide ‘Do I work or do I go to school,’” DeHaas said. This pathway allows students to do both.

The program also has other enticing benefits for students, such as the option to take all courses virtually.

Cherise Simeon, a student of this year’s graduating class, said she picked the Dallas College program because it was all online.

Simeon said, “That was a plus for me because I wanted to obtain my bachelor’s degree, but I didn’t have the time to be on campus for classes and maintain a full-time job.”

Michelle Ballais, an upper course level professor, said: “The age of my students typically is mid-20s to mid-30s.” Ballais said she has a lot of teaching assistants who decide to finish their bachelor’s degree.

Dallas College allows program students to continue working within their same schools. “I work at a Montessori school for my senior year of college,” Julia Hill, a member of the graduating cohort, said. “The fact of the matter is that the college was so flexible with me wanting to teach at more of an alternative school, which I’m very thankful for.”

Bernadette Rodriguez, professor of child development at Brookhaven, said, “I would describe my students as hardworking,” She said no matter what experience her students enter with, they want to be at the college.

Sara DeLano, dean of educator pathways, said she hopes this program was a meaningful experience for students, and they feel supported by Dallas College. “I hope that they feel incredibly well prepared for their next career step,” DeLano said.

Hill said she encourages more students interested in education to join the program. “Join it, because you will graduate debt free,” Hill said. “It’s a smaller community of people. People are more connected.”