High school student works with preschool children


Learning about Early Education and Care at Somerville High School

This is the second part in a series about our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Somerville High School.

Early Education and Care program students develop the skills they need to work with children or enter child-focused careers, they support the community of Somerville and other students, they build their own supportive community of peers, and earn certifications through extensive practical and professional experience. In the words of one graduate, “my entire four years with my CTE teacher & class with Mrs. Antoine has impacted me because I was able to network while in high school and learn many things that I use at my job now.”

Hands-on work in care settings starts right away for students in the program. Ninth grade Exploratory students (who visit every CTE program) enjoy working with Somerville Child Care Center and gain real-world experience with children ages 2.9-5 years. Tenth grade students collaborate with Special Education programs at the high school. During the first semester they attend gym classes with peer-age Somerville High School students with special needs, providing extra support and encouragement. In the second semester, they head off-campus to work at the city schools across the district in the Somerville Community Schools after school child care program.

Opportunities to work directly with children expand further for juniors, who intern two mornings weekly in district prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms. Seniors work three times per week, mid-morning through the end of the day, in professional childcare settings. Every internship hour they work applies toward their Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Preschool Teacher Certification and Infant / Toddler Teacher Certification. Graduates with these certifications can step right into teaching positions in privately-run daycare centers.  

EEC students also work with local partners at events. Events include City of Somerville meetings that need childcare for families who attend. Students help schools with field trips, events and celebrations, such as the Chinese New Year parade at the Capuano Early Education Center. Juniors and seniors take an annual field trip with children in the Somerville Child Care Center. They learn how to accompany children off-campus, on a bus trip, and during a field trip. 


Students, staff, and preschoolers trick or treat at central administrative offices on a field trip

City of Somerville Health and Human Services and EEC students are currently working together on an exciting Pedestrian Safety program for district second graders. Students present slides in the class to second graders to explain safe pedestrian walking habits. Then students and second graders step outside the classroom to practice waiting for lights and crossing streets safely in Somerville.

early ed student and young child practice safe pedestrian practices


Students enjoy work that relates directly to childcare settings. In the classroom, Juniors and seniors learn how to research and develop lesson plans for children that are age-appropriate and engaging. After they write their lesson plans, they practice teaching to classmates for peer and teacher feedback. Students then use their own lesson plans in childcare settings with children.

The EEC curriculum develops an understanding of children of all ages, up until adolescence, though the focus is on early education, defined as infancy through second grade. The curriculum primarily follows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Early Education and Care state frameworks. Students also become certified for OSHA 10, RBT (40 hour Registered Behavioral Technician), First Aid/CPR AED training, and receive their Assistant Teach Qualification. Additionally, they follow some of the National Association for the Education of Young Children guidelines. Though there are multiple sets of requirements for each certification and curriculum, the standards are complementary and have significant overlap.

A current senior describes her favorite parts of the EEC curriculum, saying “my favorite unit during sophomore year was learning about Special Needs. Junior year we enjoyed the unit, Preparing the Environment, because we got to make our classroom in a box. So far, our favorite unit senior year was Nutrition because we got to make food and learn about being healthy and allergies.”

EEC instructor Suzanne Antoine focuses on skills but also places a strong emphasis on creating a community for her students. In Ms. Antoine’s words, “the students spend hours together, up to four hours a day, and I love that they become a family in the classroom and they look out for each other. This is a space where they feel safe and appreciated.” 

early ed students working together on curriculum

Students in CTE programs study 900 hours in their discipline. In the case of EEC program students, they complete 300 hours of practical experiences in childcare settings to earn their EEC classroom certifications. The remaining 600 hours are spent in the classroom.

Graduates from Somerville High School’s Early Education and Care (EEC) program, part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, often dive directly into the daycare field, working their way up to lead teacher and director positions. Just as many program graduates use their work in EEC, and their dedication to working with children, as a launching pad into careers like psychology, K-8 education, and pediatric nursing. In the words of a current senior, “Early Ed helps you learn more about your future. There are so many different fields you can go into. You don't have to just teach. We are responsible for children's learning and safety.”

The Early Education and Care program is one of 14 programs run by the Somerville High School Career and Technical Education Department. Students in all CTE programs carry a full academic load in addition to their work toward certifications and job-readiness in their programs. Suzanne Antoine has taught the Early Education and Care program since 2011.

Learn more about the program by visiting the CTE Early Education and Care program page.

R. Ronen, Coordinator of District Communications

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