Seventeen Buckner child development teachers and staff in Lufkin, Texas, are making the most of an unprecedented situation and furthering their education at no cost.
These teachers at the Mary Jo Gorden Child Development Center, operated by Buckner Children and Family Services are working toward their associate certifications during the shelter-in-place order. As a Texas Rising Star and Early Head Start program, the center’s staff is participating in online courses for free with the Child Learning Institute’s online delivery system, CLI Engage.
This online program provides educators, administrators, researchers and policymakers with practical tools, assessments and professional development resources. According to CLI Engage, more than 23,000 teachers from more than 900 Texas school districts and other organizations use the system.
“Early Head Start and Texas Rising Star require their teachers to continue their education while working,” said Executive Director of Buckner Lufkin Marisa Phillips. “These requirements allow Buckner to continue paying their staff for their normal weekly scheduled hours, as long as they are completing at least 30 hours of course work each week.”
Certificates and supervisor monitoring will verify, and track progress made for each teacher. In total, the program consists of 120-hours of coursework, projects and general assignments.
The Mary Jo Gorden Child Development Center cares for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years in the Buckner Family Pathways program, children of students at Angelina College, after school programs and offers day care and early childhood education needs to the greater Lufkin community.
Diamond Moreland, one of the center’s teachers, is taking the courses while at home with her 2-year-old son. Moreland said working to further her education with her son home full time makes her life a little crazy, but she is grateful for the extra time she gets to spend with him while learning more for her career.
While she is enjoying her life at home, Moreland is more excited to bring back what she has learned to her kids at the center.
“Taking these online classes makes me more excited to be back at the center with my kids so I can introduce everything I have learned during this time,” said Moreland.
One of the teachers at the center, who already has her degree, is participating in a Texas Rising Star mentorship program during this time preparing to further serve the community and children at the center. The mentorship uses tools and resources from CLI Engage to take a teacher’s knowledge of Texas Rising Star a step deeper with a professional and personal mentor.
Also working to gain a certification and degree during this time of shelter-in-place are the center’s chef and the assistant director, who serves as the backup cook for the center. Both are working hard to expand their professional knowledge through courses with the Institute of Child Nutrition online.
The mission of Buckner to serve children stands firm even in unprecedented times. Teachers and staff at the center continue to fight for this mission, by focusing on the needs of children in the community in their personal and professional development coursework. Buckner teachers and staff are working hard at home so they can better serve and care for the children they miss seeing each day.