The University of Northern Iowa’s College of Education in Cedar Falls agreed to a sponsorship deal with the Waterloo Career Center for its early childhood education pathway currently located in Elk Run Early Childhood Center in Evansdale. It is a top-level, three-year agreement that includes the use of their facilities and personnel.

Pictured above left to right, Dr. Gaëtane Jean-Marie (Dean, UNI College of Education), Dr. Mary Donegan-Ritter (Assoc. Professor, UNI Early Childhood Education), Dr. Jane Lindaman (Superintendent, Waterloo Schools)

“The faculty of University of Northern Iowa's early childhood educator preparation program and the Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education look forward to supporting the efforts of Waterloo Schools to attract and prepare young people who want to enter the field of early childhood education. Families of young children need access to high quality early care and education programs.

"A key element to a high quality program is a well-prepared teacher with specialized knowledge of child development and developmentally-appropriate practices. I get calls frequently from program administrators asking about our UNI early childhood students to fill open positions for certified early childhood teachers. This is a shortage area in the Cedar Valley and beyond. We hope our partnership with Waterloo Schools will attract young people who are interested in becoming early childhood professionals,” said Dr. Mary Donegan-Ritter, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education.
The Waterloo Career Center early childhood education program launched this fall as part of the career and technical education pathways available through the district. It is the only one not housed in Central Middle School.

The pathway provides students with a diverse exposure to the world of Early Childhood Education. The goal is to launch them into a career in this high-demand field. Students receive a multi-cultural perspective of child development that will reward them with a career nurturing the growth and development of children. As part of their coursework, students receive hours of real-world experiences, working directly with children at the Elk Run Early Childhood Center.

“Waterloo Schools and UNI have a long-standing history of partnerships; however, we are especially grateful for their sponsorship of our Early Childhood Education pathway offered through the Waterloo Career Center programming. It just makes sense for UNI to be the first official partner for this pathway. We have the same vision for setting students on a path of exploring and preparing for their future. This is very exciting for students who want to venture into the education profession," said Dr. Jane Lindaman, Waterloo Schools superintendent.

UNI is one of many local companies committing to career program partnerships with Waterloo Schools. John Deere Waterloo Operations and UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital were announced as sponsors for the career center last month.