Early Educator Apprenticeship Program

graduates sitting in caps, gowns, and masksOn Saturday, August 15, 2020 forty-four (44) individuals represented the graduating Class of 2020 who received either an Associate or Assistant Teacher Permit, AA Degree, MA Degree or FDA Family Development Credential. Of the 44 graduates, about 13 CalWORKs recipients received an Associate Teacher Permit. They marched into the parking lot wearing white caps and gowns to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance, No. 1” by Sir Edward Elgar. This is the first graduation of the Alameda County Social Services Agency/Tipping Point/First 5-funded apprenticeship program. A resounding message at the graduation was that funding from these three agencies allowed the graduates to get their permit without having to come out of their pockets to pay for this program. At the Saturday event, there was an outpouring of support from family, children, and friends who blew their horns and cheered as each graduate’s name was called to accept their certificate. After posing for a picture with their certificates, each graduate was presented with a transition bag that included items to help them as they transition to full-time employment and their AA degrees.

The graduation ceremony took place in the parking lot of the YMCA’s Ralph Hawley Center in Emeryville, CA. It was a “car-based, social distance, wear your mask” graduation, with the special guest speaker being Dr. Joya Chavarin, Dean at Berkeley Community College, and the Student Commencement speaker was one of the Social Services Agency’s CalWORKs participants who vowed to continue her career path of helping black and brown children assimilate into society and become successful adults . In her words, “there are no bad kids, there are just kids who are in need of a lot of love and direction.”

The CalWORKs cohort, consisting of timed-out individuals, active participants and non-needy caretaker relatives, began their journey of obtaining an Associate Teacher Permit about a year ago, with each participant receiving a $1,000 stipend 6-months into the program and another $1,000 stipend at completion of the program. Many of Saturday’s graduates, by a show of hands, plan to continue on this career path by now working towards obtaining an AA Degree. What’s special about this group is that when the Shelter in Place Order was executed, they had to quickly transition from in-person classroom learning to distance/virtual learning, which was unprecedented for the instructors and students. As a bonus for staying in the program, the graduates will keep the laptops that were used as part of their distance/virtual learning.

According to Pamm Shaw, Vice President, Early Childhood Impact, YMCA of the East Bay, most of the graduates will be working for the “Y” full time, because there are enough openings to accommodate all who want to work. The Y will be expanding programs in Hayward, CA this fall and will be looking for even more staff in that area.