CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Nov. 29, 2005 – Thanks to the convenience of the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center, Charleston, Mo., native Amanda Williams is furthering her career as a DAEOC/Headstart instructor by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in early childcare guidance.
Williams has been working toward her degree while also working full time at Headstart. A teacher at DAEOC/Headstart in Wyatt, Mo. for the past 23 years, she has not lost her zeal for education.
“Amanda is upbeat and always fun in class,” said Sarah Garner, Southeast instructor of environmental studies. “She is a full-time working mother and still gives her all in class while having fun.”
Williams and her fellow Headstart teachers were given the opportunity to take college courses through Southeast at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center (SAHEC). When offered the chance to go back to school, Williams said there was not much deliberation involved, with many of the teachers ready to attend classes the first chance they got.
“When I first started taking college courses, it was a choice that Headstart gave us,” Williams said. “Now, it’s a requirement that we get an associate degree, but I’m going on to get my bachelor’s degree because it will better me as an educator. To me, it was a challenge to see if I could do it, and I was ready to go as soon as they asked me.”
Williams attends SAHEC part-time in the fall and spring while she works at Headstart, and full time in the summer. She says she enjoys her summers the most.
“In the summer, I am able to take accelerated classes for four or eight weeks, and there’s more time to prepare since I’m not teaching,” she said. “I enjoy it so much more because I’m not in a rush, and there’s more time to take it all in.”
Williams’s favorite class was a lab she took this summer working with babies in Advance, Mo., with instructor Tammy Davis. Williams says she, along with her fellow Headstart teachers, had a hand in making the class a success.
“In the class, we learned different things from Ms. Davis that will be done in the classroom in the future, and we also got to show our knowledge of the classroom. We have all been teaching so long that Ms. Davis said she actually learned some things from us. The most important thing I realized, though, is that what we have done in the past with the children might not be what they need now to go to kindergarten. We need to change some methods to better educate kids for the future, giving them more one-on-one interaction.”
In her children’s literature class at SAHEC, Williams developed a portfolio of 100 illustrated nursery rhymes she continues to use today. She says the class has helped her to understand how to buy books for children and the best way to read to them to increase their potential.
As a teacher at Headstart, Williams makes up lesson plans on a daily basis. She works with a group of children three to five years old, and is involved in home visits, setting up appropriate screenings and parent/teacher conferences. Williams is so dedicated to her children at Headstart that she even takes the bus with them to and from school every day.
“I love working with the kids and riding the bus with them,” she says. “When I was trying to decide what path my career would take, I used to think I wanted to be a nurse. But when I needed to find a job, I decided the idea of a teacher sounded nice, since I like kids and my sister’s a teacher also. I’ve enjoyed teaching ever since I started, and I love what I do.”
Not only does Williams enjoy passing on her knowledge to children each day, but she is also grateful for the opportunity to further her own knowledge.
“Education is something that you get for yourself as well as for a job,” she said. “The classes at SAHEC prepare you very, very well for teaching in the classroom, offering the classes you want and making sure that you can take them. Every single class I’m taking has benefited me. The people at SAHEC are very nice and they know you well. If we ever have a problem, Judy Buck, the director at SAHEC, will help us.”
Williams is a strong proponent of education, and emphasizes that opportunities to further education should be taken as soon as possible.
“The most important thing I can tell students is to get their education while they’re young,” Williams said. “If it’s available, take it, take all of it, and go while your brain is fresh. I understand how education can benefit you because it’s something that can’t be taken away from you. I enjoy it and right now I’m able to go and make the best of it.”
Williams says her main goal right now is to complete her degree, and her future plans include teaching at a public school at the elementary level. She lives in Charleston, Mo., with her husband, Steve and her two daughters, Tyshanta, 21, and A-shanti, 6. She has one grandchild.