Students in the ECCE Associate Degree program can select from two specializations – the Paraprofessional Specialization or the Exceptionalities Specialization. For the Paraprofessional Specialization, students take two classes that specifically focus on working in elementary schools as a paraprofessional or teacher’s assistant. For the Exceptionalities Specialization, students take two classes that specifically focus on working in centers and schools working with children with special needs. One of the classes for this specialization has some practicum hours. For the practicum hours, students complete hours at the Early Learning Center in a variety of classrooms that include children with special needs. It is important to note that financial aid does pay toward students completing both of these specializations if they want to do this.
The minimum requirement to be a lead teacher in a licensed child care center in the state of Georgia is an Early Childhood Care and Education Technical Certificate of Credit (ECCE TCC). We offer the ECCE Basics TCC, which consists of the first three classes that most students take. As soon as students complete these classes, they qualify to be a lead teacher in any licensed child care centers. With the ECCE Basics TCC, students also qualify to be an Early Head Start teacher. Early Head Start teachers in Clarke County are starting over $26,000 per year plus health insurance and other benefits. Students who continue on and complete the ECCE Diploma and/or ECCE Associate Degree can be hired at an even higher salary.
The minimum requirement to be a Lead Head Start teacher is an Associate Degree. Graduates also work with summer camps and after school programs. Many graduates work as paraprofessional in the elementary schools. The minimum education required according to federal law to be a paraprofessional is an Associate Degree or at least 2 years of college. There are also opportunities available to graduates outside of the classroom. Graduates can work with home visiting program and child care center technical assistance. The ECCE students complete both a practicum and an internship. The practicum is 75 hours (5 hours per week) in an early childhood classroom. The internship is 210 hours (15-20 hours per week) in an early childhood classroom.
Specific Facility, Tools Or Educational Tools Available
Several of the classes also have lab components. In these classes students usually do weekly presentations and are making materials that they will be able to use with children (flannel board pieces, puppets, folder games, etc.). We do several field trips for the day classes because most of the sites are not open during the evenings. Evening students are welcome to attend field trips with the day classes. We also have several guest speakers who come to campus to talk with students. Students can also volunteer to be puppeteers for the Hands Are Not For Hitting puppets shows that we do for the Clarke County Elementary Schools in partnership with the Clarke County Solicitor General’s Office.
Formal Articulation Agreements
Many of our graduates continue their education at Piedmont University in Elementary Education. https://www.piedmont.edu/program/elementary-education/ We have a 2-plus-2 articulation agreement with Piedmont University, Elementary Education program. Students complete the ECCE Associate Degree at Athens Technical College and then finish their next two years at Piedmont University. Graduates of the Elementary Education program at Piedmont University are teacher certificate eligible to teach pre-k through 5th grade.