- Sharon Pan
|Program||:||ECE: Supervision and Administration, Educational Therapy|
Sharon Pan is good with kids. She worked as the head teacher at a Palo Alto Montessori preschool for eight years. In 2007, she heard that the school was thinking of expanding—and that they might need a site director. She enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Early Childhood Education: Supervision and Administration certificate program to see where that could take her.
“That was the first step,” Pan says, in moving toward her bigger goal. “It wasn’t only for work. I was thinking that maybe, someday, if I had my own school, this could be really useful.”
Pan says that Extension’s program broke down the administrative regulations and requirements necessary for an educator to start her own program. Her instructors helped her understand the business side of running a school. Extension’s online and hybrid courses worked well with Pan’s busy schedule—something, she says, that all educators appreciate. The certificate program helped her plan her future, not only as an educator, but as an administrator.
“If you are a teacher, you just have that small classroom,” she says. “It’s a small world. Once you learn how to run a school, and all the things that come with that, it’s a totally different world.”
About a year after she completed and received the ECE certificate, she quit her job at Montessori and forged out on her own. She now runs an independent tutoring program, working with 3-10 year olds before and after school. She applies knowledge she learned at Extension when working with families of small children. Pan says that running her own program is all about communicating with parents of many backgrounds and cultures.
“In Silicon Valley, everyone wants their own customized education. You have to know everybody’s background: different countries, different languages. The expectation toward education is different.”
Pan completed the ECE: Supervision and Administration certificate in 2008. Since starting her own program, she has noticed the shortage of educators who have experience working with children with special needs. In fall 2012, she returned to Extension to take courses in the Educational Therapy program. She is gaining new insights that are valuable to her when working with families one-on-one to design educational strategies that most suit their children. Not only is she broadening her skill set, she’s also networking with therapists and educators in the field.
“If you are a teacher, part of your job is to motivate your students,” she says. “The key is that you have to motivate yourself. If you take courses, you meet other people. I have ten years’ experience teaching, but at Extension I got to meet teachers who have been teaching 30 years.”
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