CITY, AZ. - Seven Tuba City High School (TCHS) seniors were awarded
child development associate (CDA) degrees May 15 in recognition
for their work with young children as part of a dual enrollment
program with Coconino Community College (CCC).
Velene Curtis, Jaime Nelson, Samantha Yazzie, Joseph Justice,
Micah Bahe, Kendriana Davis and Malory Masayumptewa were honored
at a ceremony at Tuba City High School.
The National Council for Professional Recognition in Washington,
D.C. awards credentials to early childhood educators who demonstrate
the ability to constructively work with children in group settings.
"It takes special knowledge, skills and expertise to be
an effective teacher of young children and it's a great honor to
earn a CDA," said National Council for Professional Recognition
Chief Executive Officer Valora Washington. "These TCHS students
were able to complete this Early Childhood Education (ECE) rigorous
program of study while attending high school and showed their commitment
to quality early childhood education."
The requirements needed to earn a CDA credential include: 480
hours of ECE fieldwork in a licensed facility, completing a CDA
professional portfolio, passing the CDA online national assessment,
completing 24 college credits in ECE and three and one-third class
room observation hours conducted by a CDA professional development
TCHS is the third school in the nation to award CDA national
credentials to high school students.
The school's Child Development Associate Program is based on
standards that define what students are expected to know and be
able to do to enter and advance in college and careers. The programs
core standards incorporate essential rigorous knowledge and skills
in English and mathematics that employers expect of high school
graduates and incorporates industry-recognized technical standards
that are valued and essential in the workplace.
Aurora Goatcher, TCHS instructor and program coordinator, said
the CDA training is filled with hands-on opportunities for students
to gain and demonstrate skills and knowledge and to actively engage
students in solving real problems.
"We have great students at Tuba City High School and a
strong early childhood education program so we knew we could implement
this CDA National Credential Program," Goatcher said.
CCC Dual Enrollment Transitions Coordinator Kathy Nesbit and
First Things First Navajo Nation Regional Partnership Director Melissa
Begay developed a grant to fund the school's first CDA class. The
cost of the three-year National Credential Program totaled $120,000
or $17,142 per student. CDA students received a full scholarship
that included CCC tuition waivers and First Things First Scholarship
The TCHS child development lab is an extension of the classroom
and is used with help from First Things First Quality First coaches
to ensure the best learning environment for the preschool students.
Highly qualified ECE instructors mentor CDA interns and model positive
guidance and teaching skills.
Velene Curtis, a student enrolled in the early childhood class
as a sophomore elective, said she has enjoyed the opportunity to
work with young children and earn her CDA degree.
"It is great to watch them grow and develop physically
and mentally every day," she said. "I plan to attend Coconino
Community College to further my education to become a preschool
teacher. This program gave me a head start in my college and career
Joseph Justice said he took his first ECE course on a whim during
his sophomore year and he is glad he did.
"I stumbled into an amazing program and I am so grateful
to all those that played a part in developing the program,"
he said. "I have been able to explore my interests in early
childhood free of cost and while still in high school. This experience
is invaluable to me. I really want to pursue a career in early childhood
education and I am interested in things like psychology and social
Justice will attend Idaho University in the fall as a sophomore.
Malory Masayumptewa said working with preschool children has
taught her a lot and she plans to attend CCC next year and become
an elementary education teacher and work part time as a preschool
"It is a great opportunity to get to know them and teach
them new learning skills," she said.
Jamie Nelson said he plans to attend CCC too and become an elementary
or physical education teacher. Samantha Yazzie will pursue a child
psychology degree at Brigham Young Univeristy in the fall. Micah
Bahe will attend Arizona State University to become an early childhood
education teacher. Kendriana Davis may work in early childhood while
pursuing her elementary education degree.
"All these students will greatly benefit from earning a
national industry credential as well as completing their first year
in college while still attending TCHS," Goatcher said.