Landscape changing for early childhood education; Barton grad uses degree to follow passion

February 11, 2014

Story and photo by Brandon Steinert

Amanda Moran-Jones is a beloved local celebrity. She can hardly go to the grocery store without getting hugged or inspiring shouts of excitement, "It's Miss Amanda!"

Of course, her fan base is primarily Barton County area children as the Children's Librarian at the Great Bend Public Library.

"I love working with kids, and obviously love reading to them. I like to make the kids interact and think; It's funny how they come up with different answers to the same questions," she said of her fresh career in the sprouting and quickly-changing field of Early Childhood Education. "Early childhood education is the most important kind of education. It is critical to the success of elementary and secondary education. Without correct and good quality training and classes, our country will continue to fall behind in the world in terms of quality of education."

Early Childhood Education Coordinator Roni Wertz agreed, and said she hopes for some big changes in the public perception and societal value placed on early childhood educators.

"This career is not just babysitting. We are there to develop brains through reading, writing, and math readiness skills. We also develop social skills, values and concepts of right and wrong," Wertz said. "We design opportunities to play and explore, and develop creativity, imagination and personalities. Play is a child's work."

Studies show that in areas where early education is a priority, the crime rate is low and more people graduate from high school and college and become productive citizens, Wertz said. That means generating quality early childhood education professionals is paramount to the country's future.

Wertz said Moran-Jones is a great example of the type of professionals needed in the field.

"Amanda is very gifted and absolutely loves children," she said. "Her enthusiasm shows with her position at the library and contact with children of Great Bend. That position will allow her light to shine, and she will be able to make a positive difference in the lives of Barton County residents."

Moran-Jones is now pursuing her bachelor's degree, and eventually wants to open a full day-care center, which will surely add to her rockstar status among Barton County's youngsters.

"Some parents stop in public so their kids can give me a big hug," she said with a big smile. "That’s what makes it worth it.”

About Barton's Early Childhood Education program

Barton's Early Childhood Education program has four offerings: Pre-school Education Certificate (one year), Infant and toddler Education and Care Certificate (one year), Associate of Applied Science (two years, intended to start graduates in the workforce) and Associate of Science (two years, intended for transfer).

With these certificates and degrees, graduates can work in countless positions, from working as a daycare helper to serving as a paraprofessional or preschool teacher.

To explore the possibilities and view a full list of offerings, visit EarlyChildhood.bartonccc.edu.

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