Early Childhood Educator Laurel Bongiorno Leads New Champlain College Graduate Program

Inaugural Masters of Education Class Meets at National Conference

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Laurel Bongiorno, program director, Champlain College Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education

BURLINGTON, VT (12/06/2011)(readMedia)-- A new Champlain College master's degree in early childhood education (M.Ed) began earlier this fall under the director of program director Laurel Bongiorno. This is the eighth graduate program for Champlain, combining the convenience of 24/7 online courses and face-to-face learning in one short residency experience.

"With each passing year, the bar is being raised in early childhood education regarding which credentials are required to fulfill the different roles and responsibilities," explained Bongiorno, who has been a full-time faculty member in Champlain's education program for more than 12 years.

"While an increasing number of states require higher levels of education for early childhood educators, the offerings for graduate-level degree programs that can be achieved while still working full time are virtually non-existent," she noted. Additionally, there is a demand for professional administration of early childhood programs-yet few degrees exist specifically oriented toward management. The inaugural class was made up of 20 students from Texas to Germany.

There are three start points per year in September, January and May. Graduation requires 36 credit hours and a residency, usually being completed in one and a half years. Applications are accepted year round. To begin in January 2012, applications are due Dec. 9. Visit www.champlain.edu/med for more information.

The M.Ed program at Champlain offers a project-based approach to learning designed to apply course work to one's career in education. It addresses the need for professional administration of early childhood programs, opens doors to moving up in education administration, and is geared to connect students with the early childhood community in their area. "This degree makes graduates better educators, helping the youngest students at the most formative time in their lives learn to love learning," Bongiorno said.

Champlain's Early Childhood Education degree offers specializations in either teaching or administration. Cathy Tuttle, an owner of Estes Children's Cottage in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, explained how accessible and unique the program is; "I did not think obtaining my master's degree at this point in time was even a possibility until the card from Champlain arrived at our house in January. The option of the emphasis on administration really struck a chord with me."

In early November, 13 M.Ed students attended their first residency at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL. Participants included: Didi Harris, Mary Lane-Polley, Amanda Kane, Amy Brooks, Amy Cormier, Mary Ann Baker, Pamela Fontaine, Brandi Strickler, Holli Pacitto, Lisa Guerrero, Jodi Greene, Cathy Tuttle, Angie King and Peggy Zopelis.

At the residency, students attended workshops, presentations, and keynote speakers including textbook authors and leaders in early childhood education. They had the chance to network with 12,000 other Early Education graduate students from across the country. Tuttle claimed, "When I read that the residency was to be completed at the NAEYC National Conference, I was thrilled. I have attended this conference every year since 1994, always taking my daughter with me, so she could recognize early on the professional level of this field of early childhood education."

Student Jodi Greene of Springfield, Vt. added, "It was nice to put faces to names of those in my online classes, whom I interact with daily. It was really as if we already knew each other from all of the dialogue we had had online."

Meet the Program Director

Laurel Bongiorno, a veteran of Champlain College's Education program studied business as an undergrad at Gordon College, earned her Master's in Teaching Young Children from Wheelock College Graduate School. This combination of majors was no mistake, she said, her intended goal was to direct an early childhood program, which she did. Her prior experience includes teaching preschool, directing a parent education program as well as an employer-sponsored early childhood program in Burlington for 12 years before making the move to higher education.

During her career, Bongiorno has served as the chair of the Child Care Resource board of directors in Williston, Vt., as president of the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC), as Champlain's Faculty Senate President, and as a member of several organizational boards including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Affiliate Council, Vermont's STARS Oversight Committee, and the Governor's Advisory Committee.

She co-coordinates VAEYC's bi-monthly publication, eConnections, and has written for Young Children. She consults with local early childhood programs presenting quality early childhood professional development opportunities, and offers workshops and keynotes on the topics of play, leadership and mentoring, and curriculum development.

She is currently completing her Ph.D in Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood and is writing her dissertation that focuses on preschool parents' perceptions of the connection between play and learning. She is passionate about play as learning.


For more information, please visit http://www.champlain.edu/Graduate-Studies/Programs/Masters-in-Early-Childhood-Education.html or email bongiorno@champlain.edu

By Kayla Hedman '14 / Champlain News

About Champlain College

Since 1878, Champlain College has provided career-focused education to students from its hilltop campus in Burlington, Vt. Champlain's distinctive educational approach embodies the notion that true learning only occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain offers traditional undergraduate and online undergraduate courses, along with online certificate and degree programs and eight master's degree programs. Champlain offers study abroad programs at its campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's "The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 Edition." Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2012 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.