Students in the Early Childhood Education Program at Illinois Valley Community College returned to campus for the Fall semester to find their conventional classroom was turned into a wonderland for children that gives adults the opportunity to explore and practice what they learn. During the Explore IVCC event on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, prospective students and community childcare providers also got the chance to see the remodeled Lab in D-214 and the Resource Center in D-208.
The transformation is part of a $200 million state initiative to address academic and socio-economic barriers to establishing a better-trained and better-paid professional workforce. The plan aims to put a university education and credentials within easier reach of more people who are already working in childcare, preschools and classrooms, while supporting those professionals who return to college to complete their degrees.
The 61 colleges and universities all established mentor programs to guide and support, and tailored programs to meet local needs such as transportation assistance, flexible attendance schedules and academic and other support. A state-funded scholarship that covers education costs was established.
While the initiative is aimed at adults, ultimately, “the whole focus is about what that child needs. That child needs a highly trained, qualified teacher in each classroom,” said ECE Program Coordinator Tammy Landgraf.
IVCC focused on supplementing supplies: providing students with computer laptops, establishing workstations to link worksites to the college for training and reference purposes, creating a lending library of children’s books and materials and providing classroom toolkits for online scholars to complete the courses.
IVCC also is making updated textbooks available to students through Jacobs Library so they don’t have to purchase them. The 55 ECE students love the remodeled spaces, Landgraf said. For the first time, the role they envision for themselves becomes real, and they use supplies that support the work they do. “They’re just grateful,” she said.
Previously, “our students were doing makeshift activities in a college classroom when they really needed to be able to see the classroom environment set up appropriately. It was the difference between looking at a Power Point slide or walking next door and arranging the furniture in a way that supports active engagement by children yet ensures supervision by an adult.”
The ECE Lab also becomes a key collaboration station. “The lab is a space where students connect, talk about their projects, figure out what the assignment is and how to navigate their group work dynamics,” Landgraf said.
Next door, the Resource Center was remodeled into a study lounge with seating equipped with laptop ports, color printer, an expanded library of children’s books and tools to design classroom materials and displays.
For more information about IVCC’s ECE program, contact Landgraf at 815-224-0477 or visit ivcc.edu/programsbyareaofstudy/early_childhood_education.php