SANFORD - Kassandra De Jesus and Victoria Glover-Smith both know well about supporting their children ... and working ... and earning an education.
Both are graduates of the Central Carolina Community College Early Childhood Education program and both recently completed their Bachelor's degrees at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Both women want to become teachers.
"As a child, I enjoyed pretending to teach my brother and sister with a board and a marker," said De Jesus, who learned about the CCCC Early Childhood Education program from Ginger Harris Bartholomew, CCCC Education Department Chair. "I had just became a mother and my childhood dream became a possibility for my future."
Glover-Smith noted that when she was young, she would babysit for her cousins. "As I got older, I decided that I wanted to work with children. I feel that I can make a difference in the lives of children," she said.
Kassandra De Jesus
De Jesus, of Sanford, studied Birth through Kindergarten with teacher licensure at UNCG.
De Jesus said her favorite part of teaching is being able to see a child's face through an "ah-ha" moment - "the moment of sudden, joyful discovery. It feels good knowing that when you come home, you've had a productive day making a positive impact in a family's life."
De Jesus noted that working and continuing your education can be difficult and draining. "You can be at work and rushing to go home for a synchronous class or stay up almost all night when you have 'free' time to ensure there's time for studying and the assignments are done thoroughly. Especially in an educator's field, work feels like it's never really done," she said. "The students in your classroom are constantly on your mind and how to improve your teaching to reach each child the next day."
De Jesus said she enjoyed how supportive the professors and the people were for the students during her educational journey at CCCC. "The class sizes were small and communicating with advisors and professors was relaxed but prompt," she said. "My CCCC education benefited my career by preparing me for the classroom and higher education."
"I knew Kassandra was special from the first evening class I had her as a student. She is so full of life and passion for young children," said Harris Bartholomew. "Through it all, she pushed forward and excelled. I couldn't be more proud of her. She is an excellent teacher and an inspiration to so many others."
De Jesus adds: "Any step that you take into improving your life is a step in the right direction. It may take part-time hours, taking some time off and then starting again, or changing your initial path, but do not give up. Believe in yourself."
Glover-Smith, of Siler City, got her UNCG in Human Development and Family Studies. Her plan includes applying for a teaching position as well as going back to school for Social Work studies.
What does she enjoy about teaching? "Getting to know each child as an individual and using the knowledge that I have to help them develop and grow to become OUR future," she said.
Glover-Smith noted of her challenges of working while seeking a higher education, "Being a single mom, it was challenging -- but I pushed through. Many long days and nights, but I was determined to finish and provide my children with a better life."
Glover-Smith said her educational journey at CCCC was enhanced by the willingness of educators to work with her to help her be successful. "It pushed me to be a better teacher and to be willing to gain as much knowledge as I can to share with the students," she said.
"Victoria is a delightful woman dedicated to the field of education. She has worked her way through college, while raising her children. She puts others first and works to make a difference in the lives of children," said Harris Bartholomew.
Glover-Smith advises to never give up on your dreams. She adds: "Your dreams are what make you special."
To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, visit www.cccc.edu.
Kassandra De Jesus is a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Early Childhood Education program and recently completed her Bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Victoria Glover-Smith is a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Early Childhood Education program and recently completed her Bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.