The School District of Palm Beach County celebrates teachers every day, with a special effort put into Thank a Teacher surprises on Thursdays. In that spirit, November 20 is a day set aside annually to honor students who aspire to take the helm of a classroom and have future ambitions for a career in teaching.
With nine Early Education Academies in Palm Beach County high schools and several Future Educators of America Clubs in elementary through high schools, there are plenty of opportunities for students to get started on their careers in education.
For Eric Guardascione, that opportunity is in the Early Childhood Academy at Spanish River Community High School. The senior was first inspired to pursue music education while in middle school, and he says the program has already given him valuable experience.
“I can really understand what teachers go through and it sets the standards for how to be a great teacher in the future,” Guardascione said.
In addition to his course work, Guardascione takes every opportunity to volunteer at the Little Sharks preschool on the campus of Spanish River High.
He is also working to earn the National Child Development Associate (CDA) credential in early childhood education which allows him to work with children from birth to five years old in a licensed child care facility. Additionally, he is working to earn his Early Childhood Professional Certificate (ECPC) to certify him to work with children in a preschool setting who are three to five years of age.
Sophia Lacosta is a senior at Wellington Community High School who was also inspired to pursue education while in middle school. After quitting her first passion, gymnastics, she heard about the FEA Club on the school announcements and decided to join.
“The program at Wellington [High School] has taught me so much as I went through the years and got jobs with children and in aftercare with kids,” Lacosta said. “I feel like it’s so interesting to use what I learn and to watch it happen right in front of me.”
Educating in a pandemic hasn’t discouraged her from her goals. “The challenges I’ve seen this year just make me want to become a teacher even more because I know the students are struggling, especially learning virtually. I just want to help them reach their full potential.”
To learn more about the Early Childhood Education programs in Palm Beach Schools visit palmbeachschools.org/showcase. The deadline to apply for these programs and other academies is Friday, January 29, 2021.
The School District also offers high school seniors and non-instructional employees who want to become teachers, the opportunity to apply and compete for a Florida Future Educators of America (FFEA) Scholarship. The scholarship provides $750 a semester for up to five years, on the condition that the recipient agrees to return to Palm Beach County to teach after graduation.