Nashoba Tech Early Childhood is 'testing ground' for certification
WESTFORD — Nashoba Valley Technical High School is among the first technical high schools in the state — if not the first — to have its Early Childhood Education program accepted into a pilot program to certify high-school students as lead teachers.
The program, run by the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Professional Recognition, opens up certification as a Child Development Associate, or CDA, to juniors and seniors in vocational-technical high schools.
Before the program began, CDA certification was only available to those 18 or older. With the CDA certificate, Class of 2012 graduates at Nashoba Tech who pass the test would be certified as lead teachers, instead of teachers, and would be CDA-certified not only in Massachusetts, but in the entire United States.
“They can go anywhere in the country and have that certification,” said Colleen Hogan-Mazzola, Nashoba Tech’s Early Childhood Education instructor. “It’s a huge process and a huge commitment, but it’s really neat to be certified all over the country.
“You usually don’t find many 18-year-olds who are lead-teacher certified,” she added.
According to Dr. Greg Mullaney, community liaison for the Early Childhood Department at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, this is the first year the CDA certification has been opened up to students under 18, and Nashoba Tech is the only school in Quinsigamond’s area that signed up for the pilot program.
He said credit for that goes to Hogan-Mazzola, who also teaches at Middlesex Community College and is working with the council to become certified as a CDA adviser.
“Though all the schools I am in contact with are aware of the program, many of them felt it was too much work to do in too short a time for this year,” Dr. Mullaney said.
“We are the testing ground for this area,” Hogan-Mazzola acknowledged.
She said that although she realized that having her seniors earn their CDA certificates in such a short time span would be difficult, she knew they would be up to the challenge. They will work this summer with Hogan-Mazzola to complete their certification, and in the 2012-2013 school year, her current juniors will embark on their certification quest.
Heather Scarfo, a 2012 graduate from Chelmsford, is excited about the prospect of entering college — she’ll start at the University of Maine this fall — with her CDA certification in hand.
“Now we have the option to go wherever we want for college and have that certification,” she said.
Scarfo isn’t the only one. Four other Nashoba Tech 2012 graduates in Early Childhood Education will head to college already CDA-certified. Julie Covell and Lynn McGrath, both of Pepperell, will attend Quinsigamond, while Amanda Dillon and Nicole Wilcox, both of Chelmsford, will attend Middlesex Community College.
And they’ll be certified as lead teachers. Not bad for a college freshman.