After working as a certified nurse’s assistant, a front-desk receptionist, a Dairy Queen manager, and an instructor’s aide, Soanirina DeJong is on her way to a teaching career with the class she holds in highest regard.
Soanirina is lead teacher at a child care center in Lafayette, Ind., and enrolled in Ball State’s online bachelor’s in family and child: early childhood education.
Her work assisting in such classrooms has led to her prepare to teach early childhood. “I have always wanted to teach, but these experiences have reignited a passion to pursue teaching young children,” says Soanirina, a junior.
“We’re More than Glorified Babysitters”
She wonders why early early childhood teachers don’t get the credit that elementary and secondary grades teachers do. “In early childhood education, the typical thought is that we are nothing more than ‘glorified babysitters’ which is unfortunate,” she says. “Early childhood education is so much more.”
Soanirina earned her associate degree in early childhood from Ivy Tech in Lafayette through the TSAP (Transfer Single Articulation Pathway) program, which allows students to easily transfer into a corresponding bachelor’s degree at Ball State with junior-year status.
She also qualified for a Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) scholarship which is available to early childhood professionals in Indiana. The scholarship covers most of the student’s tuition and costs for books.
Helped Her Transition to Lead Teacher
“T.E.A.C.H. made it possible for me to go back to school and pursue a career that I was passionate about,” says Soanirina, who, while pursuing the bachelor’s, has transitioned from a teacher’s aide position to hers as lead teacher.
Ball State is one of few public universities in Indiana offering an online bachelor’s degree in family and child: early childhood education. For Soanirina, one benefit has been the opportunity to use tools and materials from the bachelor’s program in her current classroom.
Like many in the program, she works full time, while studying part time, taking two classes each term.
Says Discussion Board is a Listening Platform
One of her favorite online tools is the discussion boards. “The discussions boards really serve as a platform to ‘listen’ to other people’s experiences and their opinions on the current discussion or question,” she says.
Soanirina says she “talks regularly” with some of her online professors. “I always make it a point to ask questions when I do not understand something,” she says.
The feedback, says Soanirina, can be very reassuring. “This helps me gain confidence in myself and teaches me that educators and teaching professionals are always learners, too,” she says.