Gateway Technical College convinced Bryanna Burcham in her mind what she already knew in her heart.
Bryanna worked in retail, but wanted a type of career where she could work with children. It was when she enrolled, and began taking courses, at Gateway where she glimpsed exactly what that career looked like.
“I was in my child development class. The instructor laid it on the line for us, she told us that children were our future and we can be there to help make sure they have a better future.
“That’s when I really knew. I knew I wanted to be there, to help children succeed. They are our future, and I realized then I needed to be there to teach them.”
Bryanna earned her Early Childhood Education degree and currently works as a teacher of 1-year-olds at The Goddard School in Pleasant Prairie.
Bryanna says she chose Gateway because of the strong connection instructors have with the industry, partially through knowledge gained by working in it before teaching at the college.
“I think at the four-year colleges, there are times when you see some teachers who have been in the industry, but that’s not guaranteed. At Gateway, it’s different – instructors have experience because they have worked in the field they are teaching. They know what they are talking about.”
In addition to instructors with real-world experience, Bryanna says the differing times available for courses helped her earn her degree.
“Even after that, you could get help – instructors were always there anytime you e-mailed, called or texted them. They always got back to you,” she says.
A practicum to apply what she learned in the Gateway classroom to the real-world early childhood classroom in the community further helped Bryanna prepare her for her career. She helped set up lesson plans and worked with children in the classroom, much as she would once she graduated.
“I was able to interact with some great people at Gateway. The staff was friendly, and instructors were helpful in helping me to gain the skills needed in my career. If I had problems or questions, I knew I could always go to my instructors to straighten them out.”
Bryanna says the degree has given her more stable hours, better pay and health insurance – which have translated into being able to see more of her son and more time to help form his future.
“I was unsure about going back to school. I thought it would be too hard and challenge me too much. It did challenge me, but in a good way. It made me work, but also in a good way. I learned a lot, and Gateway was there to help me whenever I needed help.”