College of New Caledonia graduates Cherish Michell and Tiffany Charleyboy are reminded on a daily basis why they love their jobs in early childhood education.
“It’s really rewarding to kind of set the foundation for children and families, especially for young children to be able to be successful within the school system,” Michell says. “Helping them succeed while they’re in school helps them enjoy being there and wanting to learn and grow. It’s kind of setting the stage for successful adults.”
Charleyboy, meanwhile, treasures the excitement and pride she sees in young faces.
“They’ve accomplished goals that we’ve worked on, they have the skills and tools, and they’re so excited to show us that,” she says.
Michell and Charleyboy graduated from CNC’s Early Childhood Education program in 2009 and work for the North Cariboo Aboriginal Family Program Society in Quesnel. Each is an Aboriginal Supported Child Development Consultant and part of an overall team that promotes the advancement and well-being of children, youth and families of Aboriginal communities in the region.
Michell and Charleyboy work mainly with preschool and elementary-aged children.
Michell is a member of the Lhtako Dené Nation, and Charleyboy’s roots are in the Tŝideldel First Nation. As child development consultants, they do regular community visits, including at reserves in the Cariboo area.
“We get to do a lot of outreach and work with families and children that may not necessarily get to come into a centre and use our services,” Michell says. “It’s fun to go out and provide services in different communities, like the reserves.”
Michell and Charleyboy took the Early Childhood Education program at CNC’s Quesnel campus and appreciated being part of a smaller group of students. Michell says there was a strong sense of community in the classroom, and even today she benefits from having been in that environment.
“We were all able to develop friendships, some of them lifelong friendships,” Michell says. “We still keep in touch with a lot of the people that we graduated with so we’re able to kind of lean on each other and help each other when needed.”
Even though they’ve gained a great deal of experience in their field, Michell and Charleyboy still draw on the knowledge and skills they acquired while at CNC.
“We have the stuff that we learned, and now we have the experience so I think it helps us with the relationships that we build with our families and community providers as well,” Charleyboy says.
The CNC program is now called Early Childhood Care and Learning. The college offers ECCL in three streams: a one-year access program that allows students to meet the entry requirements, a one-year certificate program, and a two-year diploma program.