Early Childhood Scholar Success!

Early Childhood Scholar Success!

Before Alicia Lewis discovered Next Door, she struggled to map out her path to success.

“I was jumping between jobs, jumping between schools, still trying to figure out what I wanted to be,” she said.

Through a family member, Alicia found Next Door — and the path to success she was longing for.

“Next Door helped me figure out exactly what it is that I’m meant to do,” she said.

Today, Alicia is an Assistant Teacher in a class of two-year old children at Next Door. She began this role in August of 2018 after graduating from Next Door’s first Early Childhood Scholars cohort.

The Early Childhood Scholars program is a new addition to Next Door’s adult education department. Next Door partners with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and offers Next Door parents a chance to earn their Child Development Associate credential to launch a career in early childhood education.

MATC faculty teach the coursework at Next Door during evening classes along with training from Next Door staff. The goal of this partnership is to introduce parents to early learning careers and build a pipeline of qualified teachers to help alleviate the national teacher shortage. After completing this program, the Early Childhood Scholars become priority candidates for hire at Next Door.

Alicia learned about this program as a parent in Next Door’s home visitation program. She spent six months completing coursework filled with teaching demonstrations, lesson planning exercises, and reports on topics like childhood illnesses. She said smaller class sizes and supportive teachers made this experience easier to navigate.

“I feel fulfilled and I’m glad that I stuck to it and did it,” Alicia said.

In her classroom today, Alicia says she’s growing even more with guidance from her co-teacher and professional development opportunities for Next Door staff. One of her favorite parts about teaching so far is watching the students grow and thrive.

“I like that you can connect with the children on a level where you get to see their personalities come out,” she said.