Senior Yadira Diaz-Rodriguez, from Independence, is a mere two months from completing her Early Childhood Education degree. She took some time to tell us about her experience in the program.
Why did you choose WOU?
I chose to attend Western Oregon University after finishing a transfer degree from Chemeketa Community College and deciding I wanted to become a teacher. I knew that WOU was the perfect school that offered an Early Childhood Education Program and as a bonus I didn’t have to go far from home.
Why did you choose the Early Childhood education program?
I decided on the Early Childhood Education program after landing a summer job at the Oregon Child Development Coalition where I worked as a teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom. Working with young children for the summer made me realize how much of an impact I can make in children’s lives and how much potential children have at such a young age. I wanted to learn more about young children and the ways in which I can support their development and I knew that I wanted to teach within the primary grades as an elementary school teacher. I chose early childhood as opposed to any other education program because I believe that as an early childhood teacher you are able to lay the foundation for a child and give them a positive outlook on school. I wanted to be “that person” for children.
What area are you specializing in?
My specific area of focus within Early Childhood is with Dual Language Learners. Being one myself, growing up speaking two languages, I know the struggles and the benefits this has on academic success. It’s important to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in order to truly offer every child a fair learning experience.
What have you loved most about the Early Childhood program so far?
What I love most about the Early Childhood Program is that I am surrounded by a motivating and encouraging group of people that are part of my cohort, who are going through similar experiences as me. The program has provided me with a strong support system of peers, instructors, supervisors, and professors who are all a major part of my successes within the program.
How do you feel this degree will help you with your career? Please tell us a bit about what your career goals are too.
Graduating with an Early Childhood Education degree will give me the opportunity to work as a licensed teacher. Just being in the program has given me the tools needed to interview with a school district and demonstrate my knowledge of the profession and prove to them my passion for education. Thanks to this, after going to my first job fair I was offered a job as a bilingual teacher for the 2018-19 school year! I could not have done this without all the knowledge I built from my education courses and the program.
What advice do you have for anyone considering this program?
Some advice for someone considering this program would be to really have your heart and your mind committed. There is what seems as endless hoops to jump through but when you are passionate about what you want to do it will be easier to make it through each hoop. Having a support system is so important, I don’t know how I could have made it through without the support and encouragement of my friends, my family and my instructors. There will be many times when you will doubt yourself or want to give up but just keep pushing through and remember your end goal and the impact you will have once you have made it. I also suggest that taking all the subtests (state knowledge tests needed to enter the program) as early as possible.
What has been your favorite class so far? Why?
My favorite class would have to be my Intro to Education Course (ED 220) with professor Linda Craven. This was a jam-packed course in where we learned about different teaching styles and we visited and toured various schools around the area. This course really helped by giving real life examples of what different education methods looked like and what their values were.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of the program?
The most challenging part of the program would have to be finding the time management aspect because while in the program you are doing your clinical practice while taking classes. This can be challenging to balance with a job and just making time for socializing, but it can be done with a good time management plan in play.
Who has been your favorite professor/instructor so far? Why?
My favorite professors would have to be the dynamic duo of Cindy Ryan and Linda Craven, who are two of the most passionate educators of young children that I have met. Their experiences in the field calls for their respect and they are both so caring about their students and will go above and beyond to make sure you are making it through.
What’s an area of education you’re passionate about?
One thing that I am passionate about is classroom diversity and celebrating differences within the classroom, which include cultures and languages. I believe that a child’s home language should be supported and that all families should be represented because family involvement is crucial to the academic success of a child. The goal is to promote language development in English while still supporting the child’s home language which will result in a child becoming bilingual and not losing their home language.
Last but not least, what makes WOU fun?
What makes WOU fun is the welcoming atmosphere and the friendly and encouraging professors that share a love for helping others and know the importance of teaching future educators. Also, all the fun events happening throughout the year. My favorite is when they bring in puppies and free massages during dead week.