Early Childhood Education students volunteer in relief nursery
Posted on 07/31/2015
Early Childhood pathway

For students going through McMinnville High School’s (MHS) Early Childhood Education career pathway, understanding how young children develop is the first step.

“Learning about the overall development stages really helps,” said Katy Parr, a rising MHS senior.  “Like learning how to calm them down when they’re angry.”

Parr and Melissa Llanes, a rising junior at McMinnville High School, are getting a wealth of hands-on experience in child development this summer.  Both girls were accepted into the volunteer program atA Family Place, a local relief nursery intended to support families with children birth to six with free preschool, home visits and parent education classes.

The girls work in a therapeutic classroom.  “The children have experienced a lot of trauma,” explained volunteer coordinator Tai James.  “Many of them are in transient housing, for instance, so we try to create a calm environment with a lot of consistency.”

To minimize transition issues for the children, volunteers aren’t accepted into the program unless they can commit to the entire summer, said James. 

Cara Copeland, Family Place executive director, found the girls through Sheila Lenker, who runs the Early Childhood Education pathway at MHS.  Copeland said she was impressed she was with how smoothly the interns transitioned into the relief nursery and looks forward to expanding the MHS partnership next year. 

The nursery teachers also noted that the interns showed skills and maturity beyond their years and managed group activities that seemed intimidating to previous volunteers.   

 “It’s really rewarding,” said Parr, who hopes to become a primary grade teacher someday.  “The kids so excited about coming to school, and they’re ready to learn.

“That’s not really like what high school kids are like.  It’s refreshing.”