Finding Career Success Prior to Graduation

Kayla Hammond, Lisa Valles, and Krista Roberts

Kayla Hammond, Lisa Valles, and Krista Roberts

When Oconee Fall Line Technical College Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) students Kayla Hammond, Lisa Valles, Krista Roberts, Earline Davis, and Julia Dixon walk across the stage at graduation in June, they’ll not only have completed their program of study but all five will have already landed positions within the local school board system.

With one student enrolled in the degree program and four completing the diploma program, ECCE Instructor Marie Brown, couldn’t be happier with the dedication she’s seen from her students. “They have a thirst for knowledge, enjoy planning activities for the small groups, and are eager to learn; they are great students and great teachers,” she said. “I have been teaching at this center for a number of years and this is the first time I have this many students to move from the classroom into the work place so soon. I look forward to tracking their career developments in the years to come.”

Kayla Hammond: Substitute Teacher

After graduating high school Hammond wasn’t sure what she wanted to do as a career. So she took an opportunity to shadow an elementary school classroom; from that point forward she knew teaching was her future. She got certified as a substitute teacher and enrolled in the ECCE Degree Program at OFTC.

Kayla Hammond

“That was four years ago and I’ve worked for the Jefferson County Board of Education as a full-time substitute for Wrens Elementary and Wrens Middle School ever since,” Hammond said. While enrolled in the ECCE classes at OFTC, Hammond’s had the unique experience of putting the concepts she learns from her studies directly into action while in the classroom.

“My classes have taught me how to handle different situations that come up in the classroom and how to teach to different kids,” she said. “One thing that has stood out the most is learning about Bright From The Start,” Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning. “Teachers in the school system are always doing things through Bright From The Start so the fact that I will graduate already familiar with this will help me be more prepared in the classroom,” she continued.

Looking ahead to graduation in June, Hammond is excited to continue her role with the Jefferson County Board of Education as a full-time substitute and even plans to further her education. “My time at OFTC has been wonderful,” she shared, “and I want to encourage people to not give up on college even though it gets hard at times; it’s so worth it in the end. The teachers are always there to talk when you need someone and they will give you that push when you need it.”

Krista Roberts: Substitute Teacher

Krista Roberts

Krista Roberts

Similar to Hammond, Roberts knew teaching young children was in her future after having a positive experience caring for a young member of her family. “Children bring me joy and when I started babysitting my little cousin, I knew I wanted a career in Early Childhood Care and Education,” Roberts said.

“During my student teaching I was encouraged to apply as a substitute teacher,” Roberts shared. So she decided to give it a try and has been substituting at Wrens Elementary School for several months while also taking ECCE classes. “Since taking classes at OFTC and working as a substitute I’ve learned a lot about work ethics, and I really understand what the textbooks mean; I get a chance to put some of my works into practice,” Roberts said.  “After graduation I’m planning on working as a Pre-K or Headstart teacher and continuing into the ECCE degree program.”

Lisa Valles

Lisa Valles

Lisa Valles: Pre-K Teacher’s Aide

While finishing up her last few classes in the diploma program, Valles landed a job as a full-time Teacher’s Aide for a Pre-K class at

Louisville Academy in February. “Everything I’ve learned from my classes at OFTC has helped me in the classroom,” Valles said, “and its helped me to better understand children and their concepts.”

Earline Davis: Para Pro & Julia Dixon: School Volunteer

Davis also landed a job as a para pro at Louisville Academy while taking ECCE classes at OFTC; and while Dixon doesn’t plan to go directly into the classroom as a teacher, she’s decided to volunteer at the local school in her community.

“These women are living examples that one can establish a career locally, and I know they will find success as they move forward,” Brown said.

ECCE students with instructor, Marie Brown.

ECCE students with instructor, Marie Brown.