Students studying nursing and early childhood education at Wallace State Community College can get hands-on experience and earn a salary while learning through two apprenticeships.
The Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship program is a partnership among Athens State University, Community Action Partnership of North Alabama and Wallace State. Students at either Wallace State or ASU who apply and are accepted into the program can work at one of the Head Start, Early Head Start or pre-K programs operated by CAPNA in its 15-county service area.
“To meet Gov. (Kay) Ivey’s plans to increase the number of early learning and pre-K programs in the state, which are vital to our future, we need pathways such as this one that bridge education and employment and pair experienced educators with emerging ones in an early childhood pathway,” said Vicki Karolewics, president of Wallace State.
Joshua Laney, director of the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship, thanked CAPNA for being a participant in the apprenticeship program. “None of this happens if we don’t have an employer willing to try something different. CAPNA has stepped up and is serving as that role model here in North Alabama,” Laney said.
CAPNA serves children from birth to 5 years old in 15 counties in North Alabama.
Wallace State is also offering a new apprenticeship opportunity to nursing students. Working with Barfield Healthcare/Rehab Select, Huntsville Hospital, Marshall Medical Centers, Marshall Manor Nursing and Rehab, Riverview Regional Medical Center and South Hampton Nursing and Rehab, the apprenticeship is open to nursing students who have completed their first semester of nursing classes.
“The apprentices have an opportunity to become acquainted with one employer in a unique relationship. This is the first time that students have been financially compensated while doing clinical hours,” said Deborah “Pepper” Hoover, Department of Nursing chair at Wallace State.
Megan Smith, of the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship, added, “The opportunity to have a nurse apprentice permit … this is the first in the nation. We’re the only state in the nation who has that piece. And that permit allows you to continue what you’ve learned in school and clinicals while you’re at work. You can get paid for your clinical hours and for your work hours.”
Jessica McClendon, of Marshall Medical Centers, said, “We’re happy to partner with Wallace on this. We will pay for anything a student’s scholarships or grants don’t pay for, so all their expenses will be covered while they’re in nursing school.”