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CLINTON (WATE) - An Anderson County class bringing tots and teens together gives students an education in teaching and offers helping hands to parents.
The Early Childhood Education Careers Class at Anderson County Career and Technical Center is very popular.
"It has changed my life," said high school student Amber Fry. The loud hum of children playing, is music to the 17-year-old's ears. Fry spends a few hours each week with children under five, as part of a class to explore teaching.
"I took it as just another elective and wanted to be a lawyer whenever I grew up," Fry said. "After I got through the first level, my mind quickly changed. After being with the kids, I decided I want to be an elementary school teacher.
Early childhood education instructor Dana Early says it's changes in students like Fry that make her job worthwhile.
"She is a wonderful teacher," Early said. "I have watched her grow so much, from being nervous and not sure of herself and almost scared to make a mistake in front of the children, to just being so wonderful. "
High school students work with children enrolled in the county's Head Start program. Parents of young toddlers can also enroll them in once a week, two hour long, mother's day out sessions.
Mom Kara Carmichael says it's perfect for her 3-year-old son. "I know he is having fun. There's always stuff to do. He is not bored. There's lots of toys, other kids, and they get to play and sing songs."
The program is not all about child's play. The high school students also are getting a leg up on college. "We get two college credits taking this class," explained Fry. "If we take it next year also, we get a chance to co-op and get to go to schools and participate and be the assistant teacher."
Two certified teachers coach the teams through the three-part course. "You should see the looks on their faces for the first couple of weeks, actually," laughed Early. "They say, Mrs. Early, how did you do this? Patience, my dear, patience."
Over time they are working with the children like pros. "I find I'm having to help them less, and less," said Early. "It's just a warm feeling you get inside," added Fry. "You can't help but smile. You can come in the worst mood, and they (the kids) come in saying hi, hi, and it is just a joy. I wouldn't change any bit of it."
"Our goal is to give a good basis for being a teacher, no matter what. Then they can take those concepts and apply them wherever they decide to go," said Early.