- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - Kay Chaney’s philosophy is children learn through play, but so do teenagers.

That’s why Chaney, an early childhood education instructor at Hinds Community College, has her students spend Tuesdays and Thursdays observing and working one-on-one with students at Beechwood Elementary School.

“Each month students plan theme-based bulletin boards, Pre-K parties and activities that cover every developmental area-physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills,” she said.

Chaney said she didn’t realize teaching early childhood education was her calling until she spent some time working in the corporate world.

“Many years ago I was taking a classroom management course at Mississippi College when Ann McFarland, my instructor told me, ‘to be a good teacher you have to have ‘it!’ Some teachers do and some teachers don’t,’” she said. “She helped me realize I had what it took to do this job and I am still learning to this day.”

Chaney worked in education for nearly 15 years before taking her current post at Hinds in 2013.

“When I was the director for Children’s Place at Gibson United Methodist Church for two years I realized that the most difficult responsibility was to staff qualified personnel,” She said. “Most of the applicants I interviewed did not have a clue about teaching children or what the rules and regulations were for obtaining a quality childcare facility. I applied at Hinds Community College for the Early Childhood Education position when it became available. This gave me an opportunity to educate high school students who were interested in this field of study.”

For Chaney, her job is about teaching unforgettable lessons.

“Education is what really sticks inside of every person beyond the lessons taught in the classroom that are easily forgotten,” she said. “When I have former students who come back to tell me that they have received an education, a job they love, or training in a desired field of study, this makes me happy and that’s rewarding to me.”

Chaney said children are a gift from God and that’s another part of the reason she’s happy to work in the field of early childhood education.

“It is our responsibility to make sure they are cared for appropriately,” she said. “It is proven that children who attend early-learning programs demonstrate higher levels of school achievement and better social adjustment. Also, they’re less likely to repeat a grade and are more likely to graduate from high school.”

Chaney teaches early childhood education I and II for high school students. Students earn two Carnegie Units for each course, and if they meet certain criteria, they can earn college credits as well.

“Early childhood education is an instructional program designed to provide training in the area of childcare and development,” she said. “The first year program is set up to introduce students to the childcare profession, focusing on the health, safety and nutrition, child development, guidance, theorist and age appropriate activities. The emphasis of the second year is primarily to provide advanced skills in the field of childcare and development. Students will gain competencies related to the childcare profession with completed resume’s, cover letters and thank you notes.”

Throughout the program, students also learn interview skills, health and safety, learning environments, program planning and management. Upon completion of the

Chaney also teaches child development technology at the college level, which allows students to take several courses to earn the level of certification desired.

An added bonus of working at Hinds, Chaney said, is the opportunity to work with her husband, David Chaney, an agriculture and natural resource instructor.

“It has been a joy to be able to share the same interest and concerns in education over the years,” she said. “He has taught me how to deal with behavior problems and how to keep the line of communication open with parents. I like being able to have lunch with my husband everyday, and he usually picks up the tab.”

Chaney said she and her husband have also had their students partner for special projects, like field trips to their family farm in Bovina for some of Beechwood’s special needs students.

“His students would handle the hayrides and horseback riding,” she said. “My students were responsible for the games and fishing.”

Other joint projects have included bagging trees for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and working in the Ag Store, helping her students log their inventory, count back the correct change, work up a bank deposits and purchase needed items for Ag Store, which was part of his curriculum.

“However, the most important lesson was the lasting friendships made through this experience,” she said. “I am going to miss having (David’s) moral support when he decides to retire.”

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com


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