Newberg High — Susan Sechrist-Ludwig becomes the 13th supervisor in Oregon to receive a director credential from the state

After working in childhood care and education for more than 30 years, the past 17 as supervisor of Newberg High School’s Great Expectations program, Susan Sechrist-Ludwig is one of the most experienced administrators in the state and has long been a leader in her field.

In fact, Sechrist-Ludwig served on the committee that was charged with creating a statewide framework to manage childcare and education facilities and the Oregon Registry, which recognizes professional development and achievement in the field. by: GARY ALLEN - Hands-on - Susan Sechrist-Ludwig spends some time with children enrolled in the Great Expectations      program at Newberg High School

Creating a credentialing process for professionals was an eventual outgrowth of the work Sechrist-Ludwig and the committee did in creating the Oregon Registry, but by the time a credential for administrators like her was first offered, she had stepped away from the committee to focus on managing the large number of teen parents served by Great Expectations and no longer had the time to pursue it.

Last fall, Sechrist-Ludwig decided that because things had slowed it was about time she made her bona fides official and became a member of the ninth cohort pursuing a director credential from the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education at Portland State University.

“You can’t keep telling high school students to learn early childhood education and maybe you can get that director’s credential some day,” Sechrist-Ludwig said. “It’s been a long road, but I knew I really just needed to finish it. I thought the timing was right and that I must buckle down and put my money where my mouth is.”

Being a member of the ninth cohort, Sechrist-Ludwig just assumed that particular trail had already been blazed by many of the top educators and administrators in the state, that she was just following in their footsteps.

But when she received the call two weeks ago that her credential had been approved, she learned that the opposite was true, as she was just the 13th administrator in the state, and first from a high school program, to receive the recognition.

“In the three years I’ve been down here she’s managed that program with an immense level of professionalism and a lot of expertise,” said Silver School principal Eric Bergmann, who was more than willing to endorse her application last year. “Not only is she one of the most well versed people that I’ve ever met regarding childcare policies, procedures, rules, laws and regulations, but she’s just a fabulous manager of people and the organization itself.”

Part of what excited Sechrist-Ludwig the most about receiving the credential was that it wasn’t possible to receive such validation earlier in her career. Most childcare and education program leaders began their careers and were trained as educators, but there was nowhere they could go to train or demonstrate their skill as managers in their specific field.

To receive the credential, managers must complete a 60-hour certificate training course and one-term graduate course, including research papers and a capstone project focusing on the core areas of financial management, organizational management, facility management, communications and human resources. To complete the process, candidates must synthesize the entirety of their careers into a portfolio that demonstrates they’ve met the requirements of the credential.

She said she is also pleased that the credential will only help Great Expectations because the state is currently transitioning to a new state evaluation system for programs, the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), for which credentialing of staff will be an important component.

“When the QRIS comes out, my guess is that every director in town is going to try to get it and it’s going to be hanging somewhere in their office as families start realizing what those credentials mean,” Sechrist-Ludwig said. “Parents going to see they have a degree and the credential, too, that they’ve gone above and beyond and will feel good about their child being there.”

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