Learn while teaching, teach while learning

Learn while teaching, teach while learning

Future educators meet ‘Little Lobos’ at Kids Campus

by Mandy Sotelo

You believe in children. They inspire you in ways that few adults can. They are full of surprises and they are, in a very real sense, the future. The future needs you.

As part of its mission to connect people with the careers they were born for while filling the needs of the community, University of New Mexico-Taos has incorporated a residency program into its Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) pathway that combines real-world experience with education. Similar to student doctors learning medicine in the field from experienced practitioners, the ECED residency program brings theory and practice together, providing access to, among other things, an education you can only get from the children themselves.

Essential to this program is the UNM-Taos Kids Campus located on the Klauer Campus. Not only does the Kids Campus provide early education and daytime child-care to local families, but it functions as a learning lab as well. To have a residency program for associate-level degree seekers in education is rare, if not unique to UNM-Taos, according to Program Coordinator Pam Remstein.

“Teacher residency programs are generally offered at the bachelors and masters levels,” Remstein said.

Credentialed in ECED from UNM-Taos, it would be difficult for graduates not to find employment in the field.

“Certified teachers are really in demand,” said Kids Campus Director Tracy Jaramillo.

In fact, she said, 14 of the 15 Kids Campus employees are UNM graduates or current students working on their associate or bachelor’s degrees. Two are working on their master’s degrees. 

Alison McPartlon, mentor and teacher at the Kids Campus, received her own education through a residency model, and her input played an essential role in the local program’s development.

“You learn so much in the classroom, but there’s a hands-on piece,” McPartlon said. “It’s been amazing to work with students. To see them blossom into teachers in their first year is really incredible.”