Student Spotlight: Megan Rae Cavanagh

Megan sitting on a couch in front of toys

My name is Megan Rae Cavanagh, and I'm a recent graduate of the ECE Workplace program. I completed the program while working at Roots of Early Learning Centre in Killarney.

I took the ECE Workplace program because, after being in the field as a CCA (Child Care Assistant) for over 12 years, I wanted to increase my knowledge and gain the credentials to prove that I know what I'm doing. I felt like it was the right time to commit to ECE as a career and the ECE Workplace program offered the opportunity to continue contributing financially to my family while also opening doors to more opportunities in the field. I knew that I had the knowledge and experience to be a valuable member of the team at my centre. However, I knew there were things I would gain and learn from formal training. Once the program began, my eyes really opened to the extent of knowledge of child development that trained ECEs have access to, and the resources and supports that are available to us. I believe that now truly is the right time to look at working in early childhood as a career path and that the Workplace program makes it possible for those of us who would otherwise never have that chance.

We had one instructor for the entire program—Teresa Russell— and I thought she was really fantastic and very easy to work with. Getting to know one instructor one-on-one for the entire program was really nice.

I think the courses I gained the most from were Guiding Children's Behaviors and Teaching Strategies. I feel like it put a lot of pieces of the puzzle together for me about what I could do to change how the children are behaving, what their expectations are, and how I could influence the mood of the day.

Attending college has given me the ability to achieve goals I wouldn't have been able to accomplish on my own. It has opened doors and been life-changing. My achievements also give my kids something to look up to. My confidence in my own capabilities has grown, and I can see the ways in which gaining my education has made me a valuable asset to my centre. I have gained an understanding of the reasoning behind why actions taken as adults influence the development of each child. I have learned a lot about deciphering a budding interest and using it to extend learning. I've also learned more about the importance of my chosen career and how I can advocate for Early Childhood Education.

I love every aspect of working in early childhood education! I get to know the kids and I get to know the families. You build relationships that go behind their years here. I know them when they're in school—I walk the school hallways and will hear a group of kids say, "Hi, Megan!". They know me and remember me. I can influence what their lives are going to become—I help to give them tools that will help them manage their school years and beyond. I just love knowing that what I teach and what I model is going to impact them—it's going to make a difference.

Getting my ECE ll classification led to my being chosen to be a floor supervisor for our preschool program at Roots for Early Learning Centre, the centre I've been with for over six years. It's just fantastic to know that I'm able to step into that role and be more prepared to help train new staff and set the tone for what our centre should be and what it is becoming.

The advice I'd give to others considering post-secondary education is that you can do it! It can be made to work for you at any age. I'm 36—I didn't think, with four kids at this stage in my life, I would be able to go to school and earn a two-year diploma. And there was no way I would have been able to if it wasn't for this particular Workplace program.

What I'd say to other CCAs working in the field is that this program will round out your skillset. If you've already worked in the system for two years, you know this is where you want to be. You have a bit of your heart in the program already. This will give you a more full skillset that you'll be able to use immediately at the centre that you are working at. You'll be able to see changes in the work that you do every day. It affects the children around you and it will improve your quality of work. It's going to really open your eyes to different things that you can do, and other methods you can use that will improve what you're doing.