ESCC Student Works Towards Her Dream to Teach
(Written By William McCarter)
Dreams can come true. But they take courage, hard work, support, and finally a place for it all to begin.
Deborah Eder understands this elusive truth very well. She worked for 20 years as a cook and manager in a local business, but there was no real opportunity to grow or earn much more than minimum wage.
“I always wanted to work with kids,” she said. “I had an inkling that was something I was supposed to do with my life.”
“But I was scared. It’s hard to step out of the box that you create for yourself over time, but a few people kept pushing me, encouraging me, my friends and family, but especially my sister Robin and my daughter Melissa Jones. My daughter was my cheerleader, my everything, and she helped me believe in myself and believe I could make a change in my life. And she finally talked me into going up to Eastern Shore Community College, and she helped me with the application and all the other paperwork. She was right there the whole time. So I took the placement test and did pretty well, even though I was a little bumpy with the math.”
“When I started classes I was so scared. Here I was 50 something going back to school. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. But everybody at the college was so helpful and kind. It was amazing.”
“I had always wanted to work with kids; that was my dream. My original plan was to become an IA, which is an Instructional Assistant. That is why I enrolled in Professor Zodun’s Early Childhood Education Program. And I have to tell you she was wonderful, awesome. She helped me so much; she has always been right there, always there no matter what I needed. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to her.”
“So I was still working as a cook while I was taking classes, and I thought it would be a good idea to get started in the school system. So I went to the Northampton County Schools Central Office in Machipongo and put in my application to be a substitute teacher. Then in the summer of 2015, in July, I got a call from the Central Office about working as a BSA; that’s a behavior support aid. Even though I had applied to be a substitute, they knew I had a grandson who is non-verbal autistic and had experience working with him. So I started working that summer as a behavior support aid in a special education classroom that serves students with disabilities, including children with autism. I’ve been there ever since. I also work at the Migrant Head Start with kids 6 weeks to 4 years of age. I like that very much. You know, I look around now and realize I’m doing it; I’m making my dream come true.”
“I only have one more class and I will complete my degree,” she says proudly.
But Deborah Eder is not finished. “Now it is my goal to continue my education and get a bachelor’s and even maybe a master’s degree. I want to become a certified teacher, have my own classroom and work with special needs students.”
The tone in her voice is full of confidence, gratitude and even a little wonder.
“When I look back now,” she says, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I would encourage anyone with a dream, anyone who has some idea for a better life, to believe in themselves, to believe in their dreams. And I would especially encourage them to come up to the community college and get started. Make that first step. Because it’s better than I ever imagined, and ESCC is just such a wonderful place to begin.”
Deborah Eder with Kiptopeke Elementary 5th Grader Xavier Reid