The Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education (ECE) Coalition has sponsored a brand new scholarship opportunity with funds from La Clinica de Familia, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support our local ECE educators. A total of 16 scholarships were awarded to educators, who work with children ages 0-8, to attend national conferences this fall in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Washington D.C.

Tricia Heffelfinger, the Director of Family Services at La Clinica de Familia and Healthy Start, created this professional development opportunity.  “So many providers in the field don’t have access to national level conferences.  I really wanted to give developing professionals and those without training budgets the opportunity to explore all that is Early Childhood Education,” she said.

Heffelfinger was surprised to discover that seasoned educators who applied for the scholarships had not had access to national level conferences. “There just isn’t a lot of funding for this type of professional development.”

Eight of the scholarship recipients will be attending the National Center for Families Learning Conference (NCFLC) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, September 24-26. The other eight recipients will be attending the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference in Washington D.C, November 14-18.

The conferences will offer professional development sessions involving the latest research on childhood development, innovative teaching strategies, tools for assessment, early intervention, learning technology, and parent involvement.

Scholarship recipients will be presenting material from both conferences to early childhood staff upon their return. Next year La Clinica de Familia would like to open the opportunity for teachers once again. “I will do everything I can to continue the scholarships for as long as I can.  We have some ideas for including a few professionals in leadership next year,” Heffelfinger stated.