- Danni Pascuma, Early Childhood Education Alumna
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Before she worked for a Bay Area children’s museum, Danni Pascuma worked alongside a teaching artist with the Guggenheim in New York, where she helped introduce art curriculum into elementary schools. Though she already had a master’s in arts administration and experience working with children, she realized she needed additional ECE credits to advance her career. She started taking courses in UCSC Extension’s Early Childhood Education program, and within a few months had decided to go for the certificate. When the opportunity arose for her to apply for a position as Public Programs Manager at her organization, she had already completed most of the required courses. She felt prepared to develop specialized curriculum for their breadth of public programs and was able to leverage this experience into a promotion.
What attracted you to UCSC Extension?
At the time, I was the Arts Program Assistant Manager. I have a bachelor’s and master’s in the arts, but I didn’t really have a background in education or early childhood specifically other than my work experience with the Guggenheim. Initially I thought I’d just take 12 credits so I could sub in the preschool at our Museum site, but after taking a few classes, I thought I might as well go for the certificate because that’s something I can hang my hat on. When I was nearing the end of the program, the opportunity came up for me to apply for the Public Programs Manager at our museum. Since I had been taking the ECE classes, I was more well-rounded and qualified to be a candidate. A lot of museum education courses in graduate school are not focused on early childhood, so the Extension classes really helped.
I live in San Francisco and decided to go to UCSC Extension because of the ease of class scheduling. Saturdays worked for me, and I liked the hybrid option; you get to be in a classroom occasionally, and the rest of it was online. I really appreciated it.
What classes stood out to you?
“Math Development in Young Children” was really interesting, especially because I was out of my element, having never developed math curriculum before. I enjoyed it and learned a lot from the class. I also liked the “Culture and Diversity in the Early Childhood Classroom” class. General ECE development courses are always good; I could take them over and over and still not take in all the information. There’s so much to learn about all the different age groups and stages of development.
How did the practicum help you transition into your new role?
I applied for the new position before I started the practicum. I wouldn’t have been as strong of a candidate for the position, if I hadn’t been in the ECE program. Whoever they brought into the role needed to be equipped to oversee a huge amount of curriculum development, in all curriculum areas, so having the certificate and training was incredibly vital to my application process.
My practicum was an internship at our on-site preschool. I definitely developed programs and curriculum that I was able to execute in our classroom. One of my projects focused on literacy, and the teacher I was working with was a fellow manager at the museum. She had never focused exclusively on literacy before, and was excited to work with me on it. It was an incredibly successful and rich program, and different from what we’d offered before.
I took the job in August 2014, and did the practicum from September to December, right at the beginning of this new role. It was good interplay for me, between working in the classroom and working with the team to develop on-site drop-in programs. I oversee curriculum development for all types of theme topics; we run programs for an hour, and we never know how many students we’ll have, or how old they’ll be. It’s incredibly different from building curriculum in a classroom setting. I’ve been able to take some of the presentations and activities I did in my Extension classes and adapted them to develop new curriculum, training and presentations. I have all these tools at my disposal. I wouldn’t have been prepared to take on this new role had I not taken the courses at Extension. The practicum was a nice end cap and transition to my new position as a manager.
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