When Andrea Lopez moved to Canada with her family, she knew she wanted to pursue a career involving children.
She’d studied law in Mexico, but chose to put her career on hold while she focused on raising her two kids. Once they got older, she began teaching English to young learners and found she really enjoyed it.
So when she arrived in Canada, she looked for a quality early childhood education program—and found it at Herzing College.
Andrea finished the program in October 2022, immediately landed a job at a private daycare, and has already been made a team leader in charge of hiring other ECEs!
Keep reading to learn more about her story.
Q. Andrea, could you share a bit about your background? What were you doing before enrolling at Herzing?
Andrea: When I was living in Mexico, I used to teach English classes to children of elementary school age. It was a type of home school. In home schooling in Mexico, they used to have these types of groups with children from different ages, so for instance you might have six-, eight-, and 11-year-olds together. It’s a little bit different than the traditional school.
When we decided to move to Canada, I decided I wanted to study something related to working with children.
Q. What made you choose the early childhood education program at Herzing?
Andrea: I looked at different colleges, but Herzing’s program was the most interesting. It covers preschool, kindergarten, and daycare, but it also covers elementary school—ages five to 12. There are certain modules that focus on that. So I felt that this was the most complete program in comparison with the other ones.
Most programs cover the basic stuff like nutrition and developing meaningful relationships. But Herzing also includes modules on observing children and encouraging autonomy. It also provides information on supporting children with special needs.
It was very complete, which is why I thought it was the right program for me.
Q. How was the instructor, course material, and general vibe in class?
Andrea: The instructor, Marjolaine Jeanty, was excellent. She started as an educator and then she became a daycare director, so she knows the different areas.
For me, autonomy was very complex. It was difficult to understand what autonomy really means in early childhood education. But MJ was very good at explaining the theories and applying them to reality.
She had us do projects that were both interesting and useful. I’m still using them now that I work at a daycare. I use these types of projects to show my educators how we need to create the monthly lesson plan or an observation report or an evaluation report from scratch.
So for me it was a very, very great experience.
Q. What would you say was the most challenging part of the program?
Andrea: When I first came to Canada, my study permit had the condition that I was not allowed to work in childcare. So I had to postpone my first internship. It was supposed to be in January, like my other classmates, but unfortunately I couldn’t do it. I had to wait until I received my new study permit with my work permit without the condition.
So in January, my peers were doing their internships, and I was without classes. I rejoined in February, and all my classmates were sharing their experiences, and I didn’t have any experience. That was hard. Plus, the next module was observation, and I was like, oh my gosh, I don’t know how to do it. The program is set up so that you do your first internship and then use the skills that you gain from that in the next module. But I had no experience.
But then Herzing supported me by offering me a part-time job as a shadow, so I had the opportunity to get experience in a daycare. I believe my teacher MJ asked for it, which was great because I’d been so disappointed at not being able to do my first internship because I didn’t have my documents. But then the documents came, and this part-time job really helped me get the experience I needed.
Q. The ECE program includes two internships. Where did you work and what did they have you doing?
Andrea: I met a girl from Colombia who was finishing Herzing’s program. She went on to work at Academini and got promoted to team leader, so then she called me and asked me to come for an interview because they were looking for interns.
I started in the two-year-old group on my first day, but then they thought I would be a good fit for the four-to-five group. That turned out to be the hardest internship because it was the graduation of those children and the last months for them to be there. But it was a very beautiful experience.
After that, they offered me a spot to do my second internship with them in the three-to-four group, and it was really good. I really liked it.
Q. You got hired right out of your internship! Tell us about that.
Andrea: After my second internship, they said Andrea, we want you to be part of the team, but we want you to be the educator of four to five because the parents are asking for you. So I stayed and I am very happy. I’m still the educator of four to five years old.
At Academini, they follow the Reggio Emilia model for the educational program, which I love. I fit perfectly there with the activities, with the monthly lesson plan, with the atmosphere.
A few months in, I was offered the position of team leader. I feel so lucky that I found this job, but in the end it’s not that I was lucky. I think I was really prepared.
Q. How would you describe your overall Herzing experience?
Andrea: As a mother and a woman in her thirties, it was a double challenge. I was not used to studying. So I had to study again, create projects, use the computer and Teams…for me, it was a new world. So it was very challenging.
But at the same time, I learned more about myself and discovered certain skills that I didn’t know I had. I need to send an email to my teacher thanking her for the skills that she helped me discover through all the course projects and essays and observation reports.
For one project, we had to create our own classroom and buy the furniture. We chose the model of our daycare, like for example Reggio Emilia. Then we had to divide it into sections according to our expectations and the years of the children and everything.
And now that I am a team leader, we are creating an art class. I am doing the budget and my director asked me how I learned to do this. And I said because of Herzing and this project.
Herzing was not just teaching us how to be an educator. They were giving you the skills to also become a director or the owner of a daycare. So it was a really, really good experience. I feel very proud of myself that I learned all of these tools.
Q. What advice would you give someone who was thinking about taking this program?
Andrea: Don’t think early childhood education is easy, because it’s not. It’s more than taking care of children. You are talking about human lives, human beings. Teaching them is a very big responsibility.
So it’s a very complex program. You learn psychology. You learn the laws around starting a daycare and the health and safety protocols you have to follow as an educator. You learn CPR.
It’s not like all you do as an ECE is lead crafts and sing songs. You have to focus on the five areas of development of the child. You’ll have some children with certain skills that others don’t have, but you have to have an established standard in your classroom so that everyone learns at the same time.
I think that Herzing has a very complete program in which you can learn all of the skills that you need to be a very good educator. As a team leader, when I am hiring educators, I see the difference. When they come from Herzing, they know all of this.
Herzing’s program is very complete, and yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it requires a lot of work and commitment. But if you want to be a very good educator, I think this is the best option for sure.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM AT HERZING
Herzing’s early childhood education program is delivered online and can be completed in just 14 months, including eight weeks of hands-on experience on internship.
Click below to get complete program details and chat live with an admissions advisor who can answer all your questions about training, careers, financial aid, international applications, and class schedules. We’re here to help!