Spencer Winter has worked with children almost all of his life. His younger brother needed extra help. Spencer taught his brother to read, and helped other children with special needs learn to read.
He didn't see it as a career path at the time. As he continued to work in day care centers and schools, he found that that practice and theory didn't match up with what he saw mattered for the child.
Spencer decided to get preschool certification and use that time to figure out his future.
After his very first class, Spencer found the experience "incredible."
I felt my beliefs about childhood development validated. I fell in love with the program and took every class it offers.
Spencer went on to finish his Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. In the program he participated in Student Teaching and an Internship in the Toddler Room.
He was one of two people from Cabrillo to be awarded a Summer 2019 Intern Scholarship to Japan. "It's been a wild ride, and I'm excited about what I'll learn in Tokyo," says Spencer.
Upon return he plans to work in high quality early care and education programs and eventually become a Director at an early care and education facility.
Mariana Arreola-Flores always wanted to work with younger children – originally thinking kindergarten age. However, once she started taking ECE courses she became interested in infants' development and how they develop into kindergarteners. Mariana enjoys understanding the concepts of the different developmental stages.
I am very happy to know that there are so many things we can do to support the child. It's important to make sure the whole child is taken care of," says Mariana.
Being a parent herself, she chose Cabrillo due to the flexibility of the hours classes are offered. She had been out of school for a few years and it was important for both Mariana and her family that she return to school. The Cabrillo ECE department made that possible.
Mariana "loved the classes.
The department has a very welcoming environment. The instructors are open to everybody and their different areas of growth and experience. My ideas were heard. It is a very diverse and inclusive environment.
Mariana went on to earn a B.A. and now runs a home-based preschool. She and three other ECE professionals are proud of their work educating the children in her home-based preschool.
Ednaarely Cruz, as the oldest child in a large family, always knew deep down she wanted to work with children. In her first ECE class, she became intrigued with the profession upon hearing the instructor talk about the importance of early care and the lasting impact on children's development.
That's when I made the decision that this is where I want to be," says Ednaarely.
She found it to be a personal journey as "taking the classes brings up a better understanding of your own upbringing and your perspective about what you think ECE is all about.
Ednaarely appreciated the "incredible" classes and found the instructors to be insightful, genuine, and authentic when speaking about Early Childhood Education. It was clear that "they really care about ECE, talking about it in a powerful way." She appreciated the opportunity to learn more about children with special needs and the anti-bias perspective, including the appreciation of each child and family as unique individuals.
Through the program, she became a Student Teacher, then an Intern at the Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School, both in the Preschool classroom and in the Infant classroom. She graduated from Cabrillo with her A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education.
Ednaarely has gone full circle, becoming the Master Teacher, in the Infant classroom at the Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School.
Griselda had been working with children since she came to California, but she had no formal training in Early Childhood Education. She had considered herself a resourceful mother of three and childcare provider. When she witnessed Early Childhood Education instructors at Cabrillo addressing parents, she learned that she wanted to be in their shoes.
I love the program at Cabrillo. It opened more doors and job opportunities. I am so happy because I really understand how every child is different and I can be more respectful to children and their families. At Cabrillo, I learned to respect individuals and not judge.
Griselda particularly appreciated the courses offered in Spanish and bilingually.
I could keep up with English and at the same time understand 100% what the class was about. At Cabrillo I learned to really get to know myself. Once I get to trust myself, I can really help children express their feelings … No matter what you do at Cabrillo you're always learning … a great opportunity to grow.
Celene Santiago Hernandez
I was 6 years old when I started working making fireworks in my Native Mexico. This was necessary to help my family just so that we had enough to eat. One day there was an explosion at our house and in order to provide a better and safer life for us, my mom decided that it was the best idea to come to the USA and have a better future. I became a teen mother at age 17, but that only inspired me to educate myself to become a better mother for my daughter and son.
I've always loved school so after graduating from high school I enrolled in the Cabrillo College ECE program in which I was a Student Teacher and Intern for 2 years. I graduated with an ECE AS degree in 2010. In 2017 I graduated from Cabrillo College with an AS in Spanish. I obtained my BA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks in 2020 and I am about to finish my Masters in Leadership in Education and Human Development. I've worked with so many children and families as I worked for Head Start and Early Head Start for 11 years. Education has opened so many doors for me and chances of advancing and putting my leadership skills into practice. I am currently the Master Teacher of the Cabrillo College Children's Center preschool lab. My wish is to support all students in becoming the best version of themselves to work and advocate for young children following the anti-bias principles.
Rebeca came into Early Childhood Education out of her desire to know her children better and help them develop better. One of the reasons she decided to attend Cabrillo is that they teach ECE classes in her native language, Spanish. This meant she could progress toward her career goal while working to improve her English at the same time.
At Cabrillo, she found a learning environment that helped her change her view of child rearing. Rebeca has been looking up to her instructors and advanced students who own their own childcare businesses and would like to step into their shoes in the future. She said one of the most valuable tools available to ECE students are the teachers themselves.
At Cabrillo I learned to understand why children behave in certain ways. That helped me in my job and with my children. Before I used to stop them from doing something. Now I observe them and I know certain ways to redirect them. Teachers are a great resource and provide us with ideas. When I see how they teach, it makes me really want to be a teacher.