ANGELA MIKE, director of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ CTE program.
by Christian Morrow, Courier Staff Writer
When classes begin at Pittsburgh Milliones (U-Prep) 6-12 in less than two weeks, students will have a new Career and Technical Education program option that could earn them the certifications needed to start making $29,000 a year upon graduating, and $35,000 within three years.
The district’s new Early Childhood Education program is designed to not only teach students the aspects of teaching and working with young children, from birth through elementary age, but also to give them real-life apprenticeship experience working in childcare and educational settings. And through an articulation agreement with Carlow University, students completing the program earn nine credits towards a degree.
Pittsburgh Public Schools CTE Director Angela Mike said the idea for the program grew from a conversation with Carol Barone-Martin, executive director of Early Childhood Education for the district. She said there is a shortage of credentialed people and she was having a hard time finding people to hire.
She’s not alone.
“We have industry partners on board representing 20 different childcare agencies who are very interested in working with us,” Mike said. “These students could start work immediately, or using the credits to become elementary schoolteachers, or even go the entrepreneurial route and start their own childcare business.”
According to data collected by Partner4Work, there is a substantial need for credentialed early childhood educators—and the need is projected to grow. There are 4,172 such available positions in Allegheny County alone, and that number is expected to reach 9,654 openings by 2026.
Mike said the program will begin with 10th-grade students learning first aid and pediatric CPR skills, although for the first year, 11th graders can enroll and make up those two classes over the summer. In 11th and 12th grades, students learn to develop the characteristics of successful teachers and childcare providers, take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations through their apprenticeship rotations. They then test to earn their Child Development Associate certificates; one for infants and toddlers, one for pre-school.
Like all teachers, once they have earned their certificates, graduates must submit Act 34 (criminal background check) and Act 51 (child abuse) clearance forms. They must also take a Tuberculosis test.
Mike said the decision to put the program at Milliones/U-Prep had nothing to do with recent talks of moving the students in grades 6-8 students to Arsenal in Lawrenceville.
“This has been in the works since well before that,” she said. “We wanted it at Milliones because it only had one CTE program—entertainment technology—where the other high schools have at least two. Plus, we wanted to be able to recruit from the middle school.”
The program is open to students across the district. Students in the East region can attend half-day and will be provided a midday shuttle and bus pass. Students outside the East region would have to transfer to Milliones/U-Prep.
“I think it’s awesome and I’m definitely eager to get this going,” Mike said. “I’m excited to give students another pathway to a career—and I’m excited that it’s at U-Prep.”
The Early Childhood Education program brings the total number of programs in PPS’ Career and Technical Education sector to 16. Some of the other programs offered include Cosmetology, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, and Information Technology.