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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

RTC program presents opportunity for paid internship in collaboration with Missouri S&T

Emma Allison

The child care workforce in Missouri has decreased by 9% with 1,500 workers leaving the field, as cited by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. An internship opportunity with Missouri University of Science and Technology has presented a unique solution to relieving the pressure of understaffing within the child care field in Rolla, Missouri. In collaboration with Missouri S&T, students of Early Childhood Careers teacher Ruth Diaz were presented with the opportunity to take part in a paid internship under S&T Child Development Center director, Lyndsey Elliott. 

As the Missouri S&T Child Development Center director, Elliott juggles many tasks. 

I meet student workers, whether they’re S&T students or high school students, and work with them on training. [I] hire, communicate with parents, organize curriculum, oversee all of our licensing regulations, sanitation regulations, and a million other things. [Plus] whatever is thrown at us during the day,” said Elliot. 

The paid internship was made possible by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education grant awarded to the S&T Child Development Center. 

“We were awarded a grant through DESE [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education], which is our first time receiving this type of grant. And with that, we were able to hire five high school students that are studying early childhood,” explained Elliot. 

After the S&T Child Development Center received the grant, chair of the S&T Education Program Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche contacted Diaz, and she was able to start preparations for the internship. 

“One of the instructors at S&T is on the advisory board for our [Early Childhood Careers] program, and she’s actually the one that came to me and said’…We could possibly get some of your students here on a paid internship, and would that interest you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, of course!’” elaborated Diaz. “ So we’ve just been working closely with her [S&T advisor] getting all of those logistics figured out, and at the beginning of the school year I presented that to the second year students [RHS seniors] and had several that were interested, so we made it work.” 

Although students of the Early Childhood careers class are already required to take part in an internship, S&T provided the unique opportunity for the interns to be paid.

“They would normally be doing observations and hands-on practice in a preschool setting anyway, so they’re doing the same thing for us [S&T Child Development Center] that they would at another child care setting, except we’re actually able to hire them as university employees. So while they’re with us for those few hours a day, they’re getting paid as well,” explained Elliot. 

Rolla High School senior and student of the RTC Early Childhood Careers class, Lexi Mrozowicz, is one of the five paid interns working at the S&T Child Development Center. With this internship, Mrozowicz is able to not only satisfy her Early Childhood Careers internship requirements, but also earn college credit through dual-enrollment, and get paid.

So you get to work, it counts for high school hours, college hours, and we get paid, so it’s cool,” said Mrozowicz.

As part of the students’ internship, they are responsible for similar duties of the teachers to get an accurate representation of what it’s like to work in a child care setting.

“As an actual teacher in the classroom, [the interns] will be providing plan times for teachers, implementing lesson plans, creating lesson plans, and of course, the little things in between, like taking care of injuries, changing diapers, helping potty train – anything within the classroom that our day to day teachers will do,” explained Elliot. 

For Mrozowicz, her duties as an intern are more specialized to the age group she is teaching. 

“I’m in twos and threes, so it’s diaper changing, feeding them, taking them outside, and keeping the classroom clean,” said Mrozowicz. 

Due to the S&T Child Development Center’s unique program, they’ve cultivated a diverse environment that director Lyndsey Elliot believes is beneficial to the interns interested in pursuing a career in the child care field.

“Were a licensed center and we also accept families that receive subsidy services. So that could be low-income families, single parents, student parents, it also could be protective care. So foster care or even guardianship/adoptive care,” elaborated Elliot. “So that’s really great because the students that are working with us are getting to really see all of the diversity within the classroom. I think that it’s giving anyone that’s interested in education a really good experience on the diverse group that could be in their [future] class.” 

While working in a child care setting is certainly enriching for future teachers, child care centers in Rolla and the surrounding area have been faced with many obstacles recently, such as lack of funding. 

“I think we [child care centers] are all facing the desire to have high quality licensed centers and nice high quality, amazing environments, but the funding is just not there. I think that’s the biggest challenge is that we want to pay livable wages and have benefits and support our teachers, and that’s really hard to do whenever there’s not a lot of funding in early childhood,” said Elliott.

Despite the many obstacles child care centers in Rolla are currently facing, Diaz believes that the RTC Early Childhood Careers internship programs may be able to assist in helping centers relieve an understaffing issue and even aid a student in finding a love for the field. 

“Staffing is one [problem]. It’s probably the biggest one, and I think that’s why this internship is so ideal because we can get students in there [classrooms], and hopefully they find a passion and a love for it, which will then carry on to them staying,” said Diaz.

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About the Contributor
Emma Allison
Emma Allison, Staff Reporter
Hallo, I’m Emma Allison, and I’m a senior! This is my first year as a reporter for ECHO. I’m also in NHS, Project FIDO, and German Club. Outside of school, I’m most likely reading, creating art, or spending time with my friends!