Liberty teacher recognized for work in early education
A Hillsboro educator was featured in November's issue of "CounciLINK," a monthly online newsletter published by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C., for being a leader in early childhood education.
Jessica Ackerman, a Hillsboro resident who previously taught child development courses at Liberty High School and now teaches in the school's preschool and serves as the high school career technical education mentor, was profiled for her outstanding work with children, and her commitment to early childhood education, said the Council's communications manager, Lee Ivory, in a release.
"Ackerman told the Council that she remembered feeling helpless at the start of her career (in 2000)," Ivory said. "But after graduating college 20 years ago, she began working at a preschool in Hillsboro ... where her dedication and passion earned her several promotions. Once she became director of the child development center, she said her eyes opened to the challenges she and her colleagues faced."
Ackerman saw the difficulty in finding quality, nurturing educators at the start of her career, she said. When she found out about about the career technical education program in the Hillsboro School District, where the child services program offers high school students the chance to earn college credits in pursuit of a professional career, Ackerman was on board, she said.
"When she learned that the program was hiring students trained in early childhood education to run a community preschool, she was skeptical at first that students could fulfill this vital role," Ivory said. "Then she discovered the potential of the program and knew 'this was one of the answers to the shortage of quality, early childhood teachers,' so she seized on the chance to tap this promising resource."
For the last 10 years, Ackerman has taught the child development career-college pathway courses at Liberty, she said.
"The child services pathway has really unfolded in the sense of having four courses that really support not just being trained to become an early childhood teacher, but really, truly, how do we serve our community and our families to make sure that they get needs (met) and are kindergarten-ready?" Ackerman said.
Ackerman has also developed the Falcon's Nest Preschool at Liberty, open to the community, which she recently transitioned from a part-day to an all-day program.
Students at the high school who have completed the child services coursework then get professional experience working in the campus's preschool, Ackerman said.
"I think the early years are so critical, because there are so many dynamics within a family and sometimes children aren't recognized as having rights or even have a voice," Ackerman said, adding that it is important to "train high school students to really realize that children are so much more ... they have interests, they have needs."
Of those younger children, she added, "If we can foster that love to learn when they reach third grade, fourth grade, they are not just trying to learn how to read, but they are actually reading to learn and supporting each other."
Ackerman's efforts in early childhood education have benefited people across the community, Ivory added.
"The change has helped parents," she said. "It also has helped students gain the 480 hours of direct experience they need to earn a Child Development Associate credential (CDA). She believes so strongly in the credential that she has persuaded the school board to add another course to the early childhood pathway, 'Introduction to the CDA.' Her goal is to have all students in her program leave with a CDA credential. And she continues to work on making this dream come true."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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