Faculty member at North Seattle College is thrilled to be part of a first-in-the-state program for early childhood educators to obtain bachelor’s degrees.

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Ninder Gill

What do you do? I am a faculty member and grant manager for the Early Childhood Education program at North Seattle College, where we offer a new bachelor’s degree program. Findings suggest suggest that a preschool teacher’s education level greatly impacts the outcomes of the students they teach. North Seattle College was the first school in the state to design an ECE bachelor’s program, and it’s thrilling to be on the forefront a movement that is helping educators have the qualifications they need to reach their career goals.

How did you get started in that field? I studied social work at the University of British Columbia and worked for the B.C. government. After, I moved to the U.S. to work as a teacher and then found my passion as a director of an early learning program. I then earned my master’s degree at UW and began teaching at community colleges.

What’s a typical day like? My average day consists of advising and supporting ECE professionals who are considering joining our program or are already enrolled. Most of our students are first generation, and the program support matters.

I also work with faculty, student services, preschools, local and state government and philanthropic and workforce-development partners to make our educational pathway responsive to the needs of students, employers and the economy.

What surprises people about what you do? Many find it surprising that preschool teachers are typically paid about half of what kindergarten teachers earn, poverty level wages. Many rely on a partner or public assistance to make ends meet. Families can’t afford the real cost of preschool, and preschool teachers can’t live on such low pay. This isn’t just or sustainable. We support the leadership development of the ECE professionals who are going to help change this.

What’s the best part of the job? Seeing our students overcome financial and institutional barriers to earn degrees and achieve their career goals. On average, our students are 40 years old, and many have waited years for advancement opportunities, so watching them get promoted from assistant teacher to lead teacher to director-level positions is incredibly rewarding.

The fact that our students go on to inspire early learners means that the work I do to develop students and open career pathways has a huge impact on the community as well.

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