Home Editorials Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners

Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Davis (left) met with education leaders and supporters who helped students complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

By Andrew Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Council for Professional Recognition

As we mark America’s Independence Day, I’m reflecting on the role education played in my family’s journey to this incredible country and the educators who helped make it happen. I was born in Antigua in the Caribbean, where my father’s family had lived for many generations. They coped with extreme poverty and many challenges — my grandmother was blind, for instance. Yet, from a very early age, teachers pushed my father to fulfill his potential. Their encouragement led him to attend university in Barbados and eventually earn his doctorate at the University of Sussex in England. Later, we settled in the United States, where my dad is a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

Each step of the way, a mentor encouraged him to keep growing and expanding his mind. Their support not only changed his life but also paved the way for future generations of our family. I was so excited to spend time recently with about 150 students at Florida International University in Miami who completed their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Through articulation agreements with higher education institutions in Florida, these students can receive college credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

The CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and it’s a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in the sector. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. Our nonprofit, the Council for Professional Recognition, works to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development. CDA educators know how to put the CDA Competency Standards into practice and have an understanding of why those standards help children move with success from one developmental stage to another. Put simply, CDA educators know how to nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children. 

It was an honor to recognize and celebrate these scholars, who participated in 120 hours of instruction and at least 480 hours of on-the-job training. They also compiled a professional portfolio and created a center-based capstone project. At the graduation ceremony, I told these students that they should feel proud of their achievements and be empowered to become advocates for early childhood education. I emphasized the importance of cultivating resilience in the face of challenges and embracing lifelong learning. That lifelong learning can include earning additional degrees as well as serving as CDA Professional Development Specialists, who use their expertise to assess CDA candidates’ competencies and facilitate reflective conversations with candidates for the credential. 

Most importantly, the CDA scholars I met in Miami and other ceremonies this year are now serving as early childhood educators in communities across the U.S. They’re professionals who support safe and healthy learning environments, provide positive guidance, successfully engage, and interact with families and contribute to ensuring an early learning program is well run. I know their work will pay off. Years ago, my dad’s teachers had no way of imagining where their influence would lead. Indeed, when I look up to the sky on the Fourth to watch the fireworks, I’ll keep in mind the educators who help their students reach higher and higher for spectacular results and the bright futures they create. 

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