GECEF | This Is How We Do It

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona Congratulates Ware County High School’s Early Childhood Education Pathway Students

Something’s happening here. Something BIG. Ware County High School and the 2022 Cohort of the Early Childhood Education Pathway celebrated Future Georgia Educators’ Signing Day in a BIG way. On May 3, at 1:00 PM, in the Gator Performing Arts Center in Waycross, Georgia, United States Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona addressed thirteen graduating seniors who pledged to pursue a career in education in a very personal zoom meeting.

Secretary Cardona devoted a few minutes to address the future educators with his vision of education. He explained that the pandemic offered an opportunity to reimagine education. He elaborated that new educators had to be included in that conversation. “What would school look like to you? How could you reimagine it?” he asked. He encouraged the group to persevere in their dreams, to hold fast to the idea that education is the great equalizer toward success, and to follow their passion for educating children. He expressed his commitment to the graduating seniors and to all educators with higher wages, meaningful and ongoing professional learning and development, supportive working conditions, and a work environment where their voices are welcome as critical partners.

After his remarks, Secretary Cardona congratulated each student personally for signing the pledge and for graduating high school. Dr. Lynn Barber, Director of Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education for Ware County School District reflected on the event and said, “It was remarkable. The Secretary of Education of the United States called each student by name. This was such an honor they will never forget.”

The group was also congratulated by Mrs. Amy Fitzgerald, a professor of Early Childhood Education at South Georgia State College. She accentuated the importance of college planning and preparation and making career goals. “You can finish your degree and start your career here in Waycross. Think about how you will impact your community and influence future generations of students.”

The event was attended by students, parents, teachers, Ware County school principals, and district administrators. “I am humbled and honored that Secretary Cardona replied to my request and made our students a priority by attending our FGE Signing Day event. I was there, and I still can’t believe it. I also want to say, It is such a privilege to work for the Ware County School System considering the tremendous level of support for this event offered to me and my students by my district administrators, especially Paige Coker, Director of Special Programs, Dennis Wainwright, Director of Technology, and Dr. Lynn Barber, Director of CTAE. Without them, none of this could have happened,” commented Mrs. Lagoueyte, teacher of the Early Childhood Education Pathway at WCHS.

Early Childhood Education teachers were recognized for industry certifying their programs at the 2022 GATFACS Conference on January 27, 2022. From left to right are Amy Smith and Delisa Barrow (Thomas County Central), Landis Hicks (Habersham Central), Julia McKenzie (Pelham High), and Shannon Houk (Rockdale Career Academy). Martha Staples, GECEF Director, presented the recognition plaques.

Ware County’s Response to Laboratory Experiences

Shared by: Coleen Lagoueyte

We are scheduled to start back on September 7th using the A/B Hybrid model. This has made observations problematic, as students will only attend two days per week in school, while attending the other three days virtually. Moreover, because of the virus, it would be imprudent to take the students to other Ware Co. schools.

That said, our teachers here at the high school have permission to bring their own children to school with them, and I have been granted permission to turn my classroom into a childcare lab for the rest of the semester during the ECE-2 and ECE-3 Practicum scheduled class times. We are hoping this is a temporary situation and does not carry on through the school year.

There are ten children between the ages of 4 and 9. At first, their parents will have to attend "our class" with them during part of their planning periods, and they have to take them to lunch in their own classrooms. Furthermore, the children will go to another room after their lunch with a paraprofessional for planned quiet activities. This will allow me to have my usual amount of planning time and lunch. All students will receive a criminal record check through our district office. All of the students are certified from last year in Heart Saver Pediatric and Adult CPR, First Aid, and AED use, as well as fire safety, mandated reporting practices, and lab safety.

Currently, I am writing lesson plans and planning activities for the first four days for each child's grade level- pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade. I am certified in Early Childhood Education. My students will be grouped and paired with one grade level only. Under my direct supervision, they will help the children with their own online learning and schoolwork, and then engage the children in activities based on the lesson plans for their group of students for the next couple of weeks. While students are learning remotely, they will focus on rules and regulations for day care centers during a pandemic, DAP, GELDS, direct and indirect guidance, lesson planning for young children, and FCCLA competition activities for the Fall Rally and Fall Leadership Conference.

Throughout the next three weeks, I will evaluate whether the plan is working or not, based on my learning objectives, the children's school learning objectives, my administration's opinions, and the parents' opinions. If it doesn't work, the parents will have to find other arrangements, and if so, I will feel better about the hands-on practicum. I have ordered more toys, books, and indoor games for physical development, so hopefully, they will get here soon. I feel like I am really stepping outside of the box here, but I am confident I can meet the challenge.


I wanted to update you with good news about our Gator Den Day Camp. It is going very well. My students are definitely getting hands-on experiences and learning a lot about managing children in a classroom setting. I would say they are learning more here than in the classrooms we visit. We are running "all hands on deck" style.

I wanted to let you know about an exciting story. One of the parents of a four year old has employed one of my students for after school care. She came during her planning to observe her child in this setting. You see, the child's primary caregiver, his grandmother, passed away from Covid-19 a couple of weeks ago, so he has been through a traumatic event. Coming here, he met one of my students and they connected. This connection itself is exciting because he has autism and struggles making friends and communicating his feelings. So far, his mother, a teacher at WCHS, and my student are thrilled.

For more information, contact: [email protected]

Ware County High
Coleen Lougueyte

“I wish to say thank you 1000 times. I learned so much about this pathway and CTAE that I can honestly say the process is invaluable. I am humbled. It truly made me a better teacher. Thank you for the opportunity”.

- The words of a teacher that recently achieved Industry Certification for the Early Childhood Education Program.

April Hartman

The Catoosa Board of Education, Ringgold, recognizes April Hartman, for achieving Industry Certification for the Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe High Early Childhood Education Program. Pictured are: Chance Nix, Principal, Wayne Weaver, CTAE Administrator, April Hartman, Early Childhood Education Teachers, Martha Staples, GECEF Director, and Harriet Harden, certification team member.

Marietta High School
Anne Carroll

Many of the industry certification standards require documentation that the ECE program is using the DOE curriculum and that the teacher incorporates a wide range of instructional strategies in order for the students to master the standards. Documentation includes teacher lesson plans, student work samples, and photographs of classroom activities. My suggestion would be to start taking photographs and collecting student work samples two to three years before the year you go through the certification process. Save multiple copies of almost every assignment or project the students do. Take photographs of everything! There is so much work to do as you create your documentation file, it is very helpful to already have a large selection of student work samples and photographs to choose from to show the strength of your program.

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