Student Teaching at Kidco Head Start: ‘They get a real chance to do work’

LBCC student works on project at Kidco Head StartMarcia Walsh, the Program Chair for the Child and Family Studies Program, consistently uses a single word to describe her program, “innovative.” It’s something she has strived for since joining Linn-Benton Community College five years ago. One of the biggest things she has added to the program is more classes focused on children’s behavior issues.
“That’s a big thing for this field,” Walsh said. “40% of K-12 teachers leave the field because of behavior in the first five years. So, [our students] get really good practice with that.” However, simply learning these skills in a college classroom setting is not enough. That’s where Kidco Head Start comes in.
LBCC has partnered with Kidco Head Start for nearly 10 years. Located in the Periwinkle Child Development Center on the Albany campus, Kidco Head Start offers infant/toddler and preschool care to members of the community, including full-time LBCC students, who meet federal Head Start guidelines.
Students in the Child and Family Studies Program complete their practicum, or student teaching, during what is officially their second year in the program. One place students do this is right on campus at Kidco Head Start.
“It’s pretty convenient for students that don’t have other transportation and that have busy schedules,” Walsh said. “They get a real chance to do work on the floor, like real-life stuff.”
At the start of their practicum students are assigned a mentor teacher who they meet with weekly. During the first two terms, students spend 6 hours a week in Kidco Head Start classrooms. During the third, they spend 9 hours a week in classrooms. This is in an effort to make sure that the student-teachers are providing the best care possible.
In fact, LBCC students in the Child and Families Studies Program have such a great reputation for providing outstanding care, that Kidco Head Start has even hired some of them as substitutes or teacher assistants before they have graduated. “People in the community really want our graduates because they come out really prepared for the classroom,” Walsh said.
“One of the things that the college does is continuous quality improvement and I’m going to tell you that Head Start is also fully engaged in that model of continuous quality improvement,” said Jerri Wolfe, Department Chair for the Parenting Education and the Family Connections Departments.
Early childhood development is all about adapting to what the children around you need. No one knows that more than Walsh, who will continue to push her program forward in innovation. And whether her students end up student teaching at Kidco Head Start, First Presbyterian Church of Corvallis, or The Children’s Place in Albany, Walsh takes pride in the students she is sending into the community. “It’s comforting for me,” Walsh said. “To know that I graduate students that are qualified and can produce quality care.”