Gwinnett Tech’s Early Childhood Care and Education Participants Earn National Recognition
GTC’s young program produces award winners
To a four-year-old, earning awards is cause for celebration. But for Gwinnett Technical College's four-year-old early childhood care and education program, major recognition seems to be all in a day's work.
Since the college gave birth to the early childhood care and education program in 2003, the program and its students have been turning over award after award. The program prepares students for careers in early childhood care and education and related fields.
For the past two consecutive years, two students from Gwinnett Tech's early childhood care and education program have gone from state to countrywide winners in the SkillsUSA National Championships.
Ryan Baker, currently enrolled in the early childhood care and education program at Gwinnett Tech, took home this year's national Gold Award in the preschool teaching assistant category. Last year, Shelley Hoster also won the top honor in the same category at the SkillsUSA competition. Both received gold medals and additional prizes, such as educational teaching aids.
Baker is employed by the Gwinnett County School District, a major employer of Gwinnett Tech's early childhood care and education graduates, and is pursuing his bachelor's degree.
Nearly 5,000 outstanding career and technical education students participated in hands-on competitions in eighty-four different technical, trade and leadership fields at the national competition. SkillsUSA, a worldwide student organization, sponsors the national championships annually to recognize and encourage achievements of technical education students.
Hoster was recognized again last year when she and Gwinnett Tech Early Childhood Care and Education Program Director Priscilla Smith, B.S., M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D. were honored as the 'best of the year' by the Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC). In the 16 years GAYC has had an awards program, it was only the second time that both the educator of the year and the student of the year were from the same school.
GAYC is a non-profit membership organization that promotes quality early care and education for young children.
GAYC named Smith Educator of the Year for her professional excellence as Gwinnett Tech's program director for early childhood care and education; Hoster was named GAYC's Student of the Year for her outstanding academic achievements and other accomplishments in the program.
"It is rewarding to see the fruits of our labor recognized," said Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Rigsby. "So much dedication and hard work has gone into not only developing Gwinnett Tech's early childhood care and education program, but into ensuring it sets the standard in childhood care - and in record-setting time - that it certainly seems fitting to see the faculty and students associated with this program honored."
Smith joined Gwinnett Tech as the early childhood care and education program director when the college introduced the program in 2003. Since then, Gwinnett Tech's early childhood care and education program has grown from 11 to 200+ students and the college has also designed and built a model, state-of-the-art learning and training facility. Smith has been instrumental in developing the staffing and curriculum for this new facility, the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center on Gwinnett Tech's campus. The 26,000 square-foot Center provides students studying early childhood education at Gwinnett Tech a hands-on experience in a quality learning environment, while simultaneously serving as a nurturing educational center for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years. Now a program graduate, Hoster works at the Hudgens Early Education Center on the college's campus.
To join the ranks of award-winning early childhood care and education students and to enroll in the program at Gwinnett Tech, call 770-962-7580 or visit www.GwinnettTech.edu.