Coming Full Circle: From Student to ECE Navigator
We’ve had a few students come through our doors to earn their associate degrees in early childhood education, only to return as a teacher to help the next wave of ECE educators enter the field.
Shannon Graves is an early childhood education graduate from Danville Community College. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Bluefield College. But her time on DCC’s campus helped build her foundation in the field and shape her career path to where she is today.
Shannon was hired at the childcare center on DCC’s campus, where she was first an assistant teacher, but she would go on to become lead teacher and ultimately, the director of the center.
“I love learning about how children develop,” Shannon said. “I know most people say, ‘I got into this because I love children,’ but I love to learn how and why children do things. Children are fascinating!”
The ECE program is built in a way that teaches students the fundamentals of the classroom through lecture, but it also lets students engage with children through hands-on instruction.
“Once you can get into the classroom, do activities with the children, watch them learn and grow and watch that lightbulb go off – you will LOVE teaching!” Shannon said. “I love to do the yucky stuff that some people don’t like to do – the sensory table, water, mud, worms. One time I did watermelons, it was gross to some people, but the kids loved it. I’m that type of teacher.”
If Shannon’s teaching style sounds good, then you’re in luck. Not only is Shannon a teacher at a local Head Start, she’s also an ECE Navigator at Danville Community College – the very college that she got her start at years ago.
“When I was in school, the faculty at DCC was very helpful, whatever you needed, they went out of their way to help you,” Shannon said. “We didn’t have navigators back then, but just like I was helped, I try to go above and beyond for the students.”
And that’s exactly what Shannon does. She helps students with everything from enrollment, financial aid, tutoring, incentives and scholarships. She does anything and everything she can to recruit students, get them through the program and into the field helping children.
“Taking these classes will help students more than they think,” she said. “It will help them learn about children and how they think and it will help further their career. The faculty and staff there will help all along the way. All you have to do is ask.”