WATERLOO — A signing ceremony Friday formally committed the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Education to a sponsorship deal with the Waterloo Career Center.
The sponsorship will be for its early childhood education pathway, currently located at the Elk Run Early Childhood Center in Evansdale. The top-level, three-year agreement includes the use of UNI facilities and personnel for the Waterloo Community Schools program.
“Families of young children need access to high quality early care and education programs,” said Mary Donegan-Ritter, associate professor of early childhood education at the Cedar Falls university. “A key element to a high quality program is a well-prepared teacher with specialized knowledge of child development and developmentally-appropriate practices. This is a shortage area in the Cedar Valley and beyond. We hope our partnership with Waterloo Schools will attract young people who are interested in becoming early childhood professionals.”
The center’s early childhood education program launched this fall as part of the career and technical education pathways available through the district. It is the only one not housed in Central Middle School.
The pathway provides students with a diverse exposure to the world of early childhood education. Students receive a multicultural perspective of child development. As part of their coursework, students receive hours of real-world experiences, working directly with children at the Elk Run Early Childhood Center.
UNI is one of many local partners with the center’s career programs. John Deere Waterloo Operations and UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital were announced as sponsors for the career center last month.