Alumni and students tell you about UW-Stout Early Childhood Education program (from left to right: Todd Hayden, Charlene Drabek, Lindsey Gerber, Amanda Alfred and Curtis Dachel). Windows Media Player required.

  • Todd Hayden (Menomonie, Wisconsin) describes his career as an educator and how UW-Stout prepared him for the workplace.
    Video  |  Text

  • What types of experiences should I get to supplement my studies?
    Video  |  Text

  • What is the Early Childhood Education faculty like?
    Video  |  Text

  • What are the facilities like? What is the program curriculum like? What is your favorite part of the program?
    Video  |  Text


Video 1

Todd Hayden (Menomonie, Wisconsin) describes his career as an educator and how UW-Stout prepared him for the workplace.

As a third grade teacher I try to control the chaos. Third grade is wonderful – I love third grade. To me it’s the last stage where they still love their teacher and still excited school and are agreeable with their parents but independent enough to do a lot of skills.

Early Childhood Education is very versatile. What I like about Stout’s education is that there is a shift right now towards that emphasis in early education. Anybody coming out of the program can work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or all the way up through third grade. I’m really excited about that add-on as well.  I believe it’s 10 to 12 credits for fourth and fifth grade as well.

The competition in the teaching workforce is very competitive right now. I know some of my positions, that over 100 applicants that applied and I felt really fortunate to get them.  I believe that one of the positions I got – a first grade position — I got in part because my emphasis in early childhood education. Whereas I felt I was more prepared to work with younger kids and have that background and knew about their developmental milestones that Stout emphasized versus somebody who had a K-6 degree. Stout, especially if you’re looking for an emphasis where a big job market is right now is for K-4 is a lot of expansion in early childhood — I believe that Stout definitely has the inside advantage for K-4 job openings because of the program advantages.

One thing I like about Stout’s program is that we did a number of hands on activities. We were definitely in the classrooms — sometimes it’s trial by fire and made a lot of mistakes along the way. Definitely a lot of projects — I learned a lot about how to become a teacher through Stout. Whereas other training I had was more on the curriculum — to me the curriculum can always come but Stout really taught me the art of teaching.


Video 2

What types of experiences should I get to supplement my studies?

Charlene Drabek: What high school students should be doing to prepare for this is to spend time babysitting certainly, but I think even more in a daycare setting — even  going to kindergarten, first and second grades and spending time observing there, even helping out. Teachers would be more than willing to have them in there — it will give a good idea of what this major involves.

Lindsey Gerber: I would recommend getting involved in as many activities as possible with young children. I think that it doesn’t have to be in a school setting, it doesn’t have to be in a classroom or educationally structured classroom. I think things like coaching, or working with church activities as I did or teaching Bible school or Sunday school — anything like that, I think is a great experience and gives you a great opportunity to work with children to decide if it’s the right place for you or not.

Amanda Alfred: I think getting the most experience you can working with children. It was helpful I had experience working with children coming into the major because I could relate to some of my experiences and build off of them. Also being prepared for everything and making sure you’re ready to take on the load that you do, because it is a lot of work, but it comes to benefit you in the end.


Video 3

What is the faculty like?

Charlene Drabek: The faculty here at Stout are outstanding. They are accessible. They are excellent models. I can’t believe how much I have learned just by watching how they teach -- not just what they teach, but how they do it.

Curtis Dachel: Teachers are very helpful, very knowledgeable. Any questions you have. They have a lot of experience.

Lindsey Gerber: They are always willing to help. They always have an open door policy, and always make themselves available to you.  

Amanda Alfred: They are incredibly helpful. It seems everyone has an open door policy, if you have a question about anything, you can sit down in a chair and can talk to them about anything.

Todd Hayden: Part of the reason I’m here today is because of the relationship I had with them.  That relationship continues too as with me having Stout students come into my classrooms and having a professional rapport with those professors.


Video 4

What are the facilities like? What is the program curriculum like? What is your favorite part of the program?

Todd Hayden:  The facilities on campus were very beneficial because of  course instead of just theory it was able to give us observation and actually to get us into the facilities. It was hands-on practice and to apply immediately what we were learning.

Amanda Alfred:  It’s very involved — it has a lot of hands-on experience. You learn a lot about developmentally appropriate practice for children. You learn about activities to do with them and ways to incorporate things into your curriculum. There’s a lot of field experience, which is the best part. I learned a lot through that.

Curtis Dachel:  I really enjoy the lab activities here at Stout. We get a lot of experience like the one I’m at now. It’s four hours a week. We work at the preschool lab, we make lesson plans, and getting to meet the children and work with them, and just see how they learn and what they are like.  

Lindsey Gerber:  My favorite part about early childhood education is definitely the experience to work with children one on one and in front of a whole class. The experience that is offered here at UW-Stout to work with children is the best experience and opportunity that can be offered. I think that being in class and lectures and in discussions are very advantageous and very educational, but the actual experience of working with children is the best opportunity for us here.

Charlene Drabek: The children and the spontaneity of them, their honesty, and their openness to learning whatever is going on. It’s like magic and absolutely fun — I don’t consider it work.