The Early Childhood Education Club is an organization that aims to help future teachers further develop important career skills, such as communication and leadership, outside of the classroom. Created only two years ago, it is one of Kean’s newer clubs, but it still has established itself as a resourceful niche for anyone interested in education, working with children and personal development overall.
Jessica Henriques, who is studying early childhood education P-3 and K-6 with a concentration in math, is the president of the Early Childhood Education Club and one of the founding members. She partnered with Dominique Cunningham, the current vice president of the organization, to establish the club and get recognition back in spring 2017.
“I was inspired to start this club because I wanted to work with children in a variety of settings to not only gain experience within my major, but also support children in our local communities with any resources they may need. I also wanted an organization where education majors could fellowship with each other and develop important skills needed for our field,” Henriques said.
While education majors at Kean strive to hone their teaching abilities inside of the classroom, Henriques designed the Early Childhood Education Club to add another dimension to their skill sets through working with other teachers-in-training and participating in community service that benefits children similar to those they would be interacting with in the future.
“The mission of our club is to provide opportunities to help future teachers develop in leadership and communication skills. Members will have fellowship together, participate in service projects related to young children and be given opportunities for professional development,” Henriques said.
Apart from Henriques and Cunningham, other members of the club’s executive board include Secretary Hannah Egan, Treasurer Jolene Sinclair and Director of Public Relations Ashley Figueiredo. While this club is geared specifically toward students aiming to go into the education field, membership is open to all.
“The club is not just for education majors; we welcome all majors... If you like working with children, this is a great club to join,” Henriques said.
The Early Childhood Education Club usually meets once a month. However, according to Henriques, they meet more frequently when necessary to sort out the fine details of any upcoming events. The club has been especially proactive in the past year with its planning.
“This past year, our organization collected toys during the holidays, which were donated to the children at the Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown. We held a Praxis Core workshop and we volunteered our time with the organization Need Quest for their School-A-Palooza event, which provides resources for special needs children,” Henriques said. “This spring semester, we will be hosting a winter fest for a local daycare and working with other organizations and schools to hold fun events for children.”
Henriques believes that membership in this club underscores the importance of early childhood education in general, as educators have the ability to shape the students as they grow up.
“Early childhood education is important because emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development," Henriques said. "Therefore, it is important to invest in very young children so as to maximize their future well-being.”