Criterion 1: Mission and Role
Danville Community College’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program is rooted in the college’s mission of providing quality comprehensive higher education and workforce programs and services to promote student success and to enhance business and community development. DCC is governed by State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and the Danville Community College Board. DCC’s service area includes the city of Danville, Pittsylvania county and part of Halifax county in Virginia, for a total population of over 140,000.
Half of the college’s enrollment is made up of students ages 21 and under, to include dual enrollment programs. The college typically enrolls 2,500-3,500 student per academic year, with 49 students currently in the Early Childhood program. The program currently consists of one full-time faculty member and two adjunct faculty members and typically graduates 12-15 students per year. DCC’s Early Childhood Education program is dedicated to supporting candidates, children, families and early childhood programs in our community. The program prepares professionals to promote overall quality in early childhood programs.
Candidates in the Early Childhood program have the ability to practice skills in the field and network with many stakeholders in the community. The program is supported by multiple sources, including the ECE Advisory Board, DCC Educational Foundation, T.E.A.C.H. Club, on-site lab school, Smart Beginnings, Danville Science Center, Head Start, local community services board, local public school systems and other various community partners. Over the last several years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has developed a state-wide quality rating system, known as VA Quality. VA Quality focuses on quality standards related to provider education and qualifications, curriculum and assessment, environment and interactions. The Early Childhood Education Program has changed to reflect VA Quality standards in an effort to support community needs and interest. The program continues to grow and change based on community growth. Courses are offered for non-traditional students to include evening, online and hybrid formats.
Throughout the program, candidates participate in active learning experiences in the ECE classroom and lab school setting. The program prepares candidates to work in a variety of settings, to include child care centers, private and public preschools, and Head Start programs. Experience in these settings allows them to gain field experience with children ages birth-3 years, 3-5 years and 5-8 years. They may obtain positions as a child care center teacher or director, assistant in the public school setting, teacher in Head Start or other positions within the ECE field. Graduates are also prepared to transfer to four-year institutions for Prek-grade 3 teaching licensure.
Faculty maintain a strong working relationship with local providers. For example, providers regularly seek faculty assistance in recruiting students for positions in the field. Job postings are communicated to students via email and class announcements. Faculty also provide information about scholarships to students, providers and local organizations, such as Smart Beginnings through email and handouts. Faculty participate in local events and provider training to spread awareness of the ECE program, course offerings, scholarships and other program benefits. The program is closely connected to the community by engaging members of the advisory committee members in program updates, changes,and decisions.
The advisory committee is composed of members that represent a variety of programs in the field,such as the local public schools, private child care centers, local Head Start programs, Danville Science Center, community college administration, and Smart Beginnings. While networking with these partners, the faculty participate in local career fairs to target high school students as well as community members at large.