Caitlin Downs ’23, Early Childhood Education

Caitlin Caitlin always wanted to go back to school, although she didn’t expect the opportunity to come this quickly. But in fall 2021 she’ll do just that, beginning classes at NVU toward a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education through the CCV to NVU Pathway. “The time is right,” she said.

Now in her seventh year as an early childhood educator, Caitlin is the lead teacher in the three-year-old room at Horizons Early Learning Center in Rutland; the program serves children ages three to five years. She learned about the CCV to NVU Pathway for earning her bachelor’s from the director at Horizons. Caitlin then attended a Zoom meeting with Heather Duhamel, NVU program coordinator and ECE faculty, and “found the program was presented in a very doable way,” she said.

Caitlin began on her path in this field with an associate degree in early childhood education from Community College of Vermont. She started out at Head Start in New Hampshire in 2009 right after earning her degree. Her first position was a combination role, teaching in addition to monthly home visits and community networking, and her last year there she was the Lead Teacher/Center Director. Caitlin then moved on to work as Lead Teacher/Center Director at a licensed preschool from 2013-2015. She earned her Baby Signing Time certification through the Signing Time Academy in 2016, and taught community and local preschool classes for two years.

“I took some time away from teaching when my children were young, and made the decision to return shortly before my youngest began preschool,” Caitlin said. “I enjoyed being home, but I missed teaching and working with families, and was excited when the opportunity came to return to the classroom.”

Of the Pathway, Caitlin says, “The way it’s set up, from the bridge from CCV to NVU to the way the classes work — it all felt within reach the more I learned about the program, even with parenting (two young children) and teaching at the same time.” A big draw of this program for her is that student teaching can happen right within her current workplace, she added.

“Working as an early childhood educator challenges me to grow and learn constantly,” Caitlin says, “and it keeps me connected to my local community while also expanding my teaching experience.” Through this program, she’ll be able to implement all she’s learning right in her classroom every day, she said.