Ridgeview’s on-site childcare benefiting students, children

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/23/21

ORANGE PARK — Ridgeview High School’s Academy of Teaching and Learning functions as a school within a school, allowing students to earn childcare-related certifications and gain experience with …

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Ridgeview’s on-site childcare benefiting students, children

Posted

ORANGE PARK — Ridgeview High School’s Academy of Teaching and Learning functions as a school within a school, allowing students to earn childcare-related certifications and gain experience with Pre-K age children.

Students can attend the program for four years to earn a Child Development Associate certification, according to teacher and head cheerleading coach Aimee Stutz. Students spend the early parts of the program learning laws regulations, including testing from the Department of Children and Families, before the hands-on learning with the “Little Paws.”

Most of the program’s 21 children are brought by Clay County School District employees. Stutz said her courses are meant for adults and are rigorous. She said about 120 students are in the program over the four levels.

“So many more employment opportunities open up when they have this,” Stutz said. “They’re more marketable really.”

Stutz said the courses give students life experiences.

“My [students] love working with kids. For me, I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age, so I want to give them an opportunity to get them to have that experience,” Stutz said.

“Once they get their certifications they can teach early-level childhood classes. It gives them the opportunity to feel out the career they potentially want to be in for the rest of their life.”

Rachel Inman, a Ridgeview senior with four years in the program, was giving two children a lesson about Thanksgiving. Inman said the program helps her understand children and develops patience and creativity.

“Everything we do right now will reflect on them as they get older,” Inman said. “They have so much fun with it. We get to be so creative.”

There is a major focus on learning, social and emotional development or simply keeping the children occupied. Last week, Inman’s lesson’s plans targeted the children’s motor skills.

“I know it’s a class I’m getting graded for, but I’m not under the pressure I usually am with classes. It doesn’t feel like a class,” Inman said. “It’s a happy, positive environment with the kids. They’re always full of so much light.”

Principal Becky Murphy said the program is a wonderful opportunity for the students to explore a career. The children also get access to a highly interactive program, she added.

“Students having the ability to pursue it if that’s something that interests them,” Murphy said. “If they pass all of their certifications, they can work in a daycare facility, which is a nice job to have during college.”

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