Early Childhood Education

Are you interested in a career in Early Childhood Education? Are you passionate about teaching and caring for young children?

Then, consider the Early Childhood Education program. Our faculty is committed to young children, the profession that serves them, and to students like you.

The Early Childhood Education Program offers high quality, engaging learning experiences that connect students to children and to the profession. Students participate actively in the college classroom and in the field with young children of different ages in a variety of settings. Small classes and close relationships with faculty and other students create a welcoming environment. Certificates build into a diploma, and into a transferable degree.

Nationally accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the mission of the Early Childhood Education program pinpoints developing students to develop children.

Still interested and passionate? Begin your journey with us.

Please review the GTCC Early Education Handbook (PDF) for information about what is expected in this program.

Degree and Credentialing Options

Career Opportunities

Early Childhood Education.

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to follow the general enrollment process for GTCC.  During the advising process you will have the opportunity to indicate your desire to study within this curriculum. Your advisor will help you sign up for the specific courses you need.

Linda Johnson, Program Director and Associate Professor

About me

I was born in San Francisco, lived most of my life in Missouri. I have been in North Carolina since 2002. I earned my B.S. degree at Southeast Missouri State University and my M.Ed. from Southwest Baptist University. I have been teaching at GTCC as a full-time faculty member since 2011. Additionally, I currently serve as Early Childhood Education Program director. I taught six years prior to that as an adjunct faculty member. Prior to accepting a position at GTCC, I taught Early Childhood Education at Ragsdale High School. While living in Missouri, I worked as a WIC nutrition educator, a parent educator for the Parents as Teachers program, and taught middle and high school for 20 years in the small rural town of Eminence, where I grew up. My husband and I are a blended family with four adult children and five grandchildren. We enjoy traveling, especially road trips and cruises; we take trips somewhere every year. My bucket list includes traveling to all 50 states, I only have six more.

What I love about teaching at GTCC

I love watching our students grow and become the best early childhood professionals! I love supervising students in their field experiences and seeing them apply knowledge, develop skills and the understanding of the importance of play. I am blessed to work with a caring and passionate group of faculty that enjoy coming to work, love our students and are fully committed to excellence in Early Childhood Education!

What students can expect from me
  • High expectations/standards coupled with a high level of support
  • Prompt feedback on tests, papers, plans and projects
  • Prompt responses to student's needs
  • Being caring, compassionate, understanding and professional
  • A sense of humor

Dr. Natasha Spellman, Instructor

About me

I am a native of Elizabeth City, N.C. I earned a B.S. in Child Development and Family Relations from East Carolina University, an M.A. in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Adult Education and Staff Development from Regent University, a CAGS in Early Childhood Education from Northcentral University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. I have taught early childhood education at the high school, associate, bachelor, and master’s levels. I also served as a parent involvement facilitator in a public school system, an early childhood specialist, childcare licensing consultant, and public school pre-kindergarten teacher. I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

What I love about teaching at GTCC

Although I just arrived at GTCC in Fall 2020, I have already developed an appreciation of the thirst for learning displayed by the early childhood students. Students are engaged and genuinely want to make a difference in the lives of children and families.

What students can expect from me
  •  Recognition of diverse perspectives
  • Willingness to answer questions
  • Accountability for all
  • Supportive classroom environment

Shannon Burghart, Associate Professor

About me

I grew up in West Virginia, but as an adult I have lived in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, and New York. I earned a B.A. degree from Wake Forest University, an M.S. from the University of Georgia, and an M.P.P from the University of Chicago. I began teaching as an adjunct at GTCC nine years ago and have been a full-time faculty member since 2015. I have also worked as a director of two University Lab Early Care and Learning Centers and have done policy work in Washington, D.C. and New York City. My husband and I have two children and two crazy dogs. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, swimming, and refinishing furniture (a new hobby during Covid).

What I love about teaching at GTCC

I am passionate about the field of Early Care and Learning. I believe all children need a happy, healthy, developmentally appropriate early learning experience full of play. Therefore, I find great joy in helping our students know how to provide that for children and become the best teachers and caregivers they can. I love to watch students’ understanding grow and see those "aha" moments when the theory and application come together.

What students can expect from me
  • High expectations/standards coupled with a high level of support
  • Prompt feedback on tests, papers, plans, and projects
  • Prompt responses to emails and phone calls
  • Compassionate caring in a professional context
  • Fun and joy- active learning to engage students as we want them to engage children

Amy Huffman, Professor

About me

A native of New York City (you can still hear the accent), I earned a B.S. degree from St. John’s University (NYC) and an M.A. from Wheaton College (Illinois). I have been a full-time instructor at GTCC for lots of years — longer than some of the present buildings. I have also worked in child care and taught elementary school. My supportive husband and I have four adult children (Yes, we survived that!), three amazing grandchildren, and five lovable grand-dogs. I enjoy spending time with all of them (even the canines), traveling, reading, swimming, walking, and jewelry making.

What I love about teaching at GTCC

The purpose of our NAEYC accredited program is "to develop students to develop children." I am passionate about being part of that developmental process and part of the caring community of learners that is the faculty and students of the Early Childhood Education program. I take pride in how we are committed to excellence and achieving national standards, and thereby, raising the quality of education and care for young children.

What students can expect from me
  • High expectations/standards coupled with a high level of support
  • Prompt feedback on tests, papers, plans, and projects
  • Compassionate caring in a professional context
  • No surprises
  • A sense of humor

Yes.  Visit the college Financial Aid web page for answers to all your questions.

During various courses in the first year of the program, you’ll complete projects/observations that are conducted in a child care center. Field placement courses provide you with direct experience with children in learning about their development, planning and carrying out appropriate learning experiences, and interacting with families. You also will observe and participate in other settings that serve young children, such as public schools.

Graduates with an A.A.S degree can be lead teachers in or directors of child care and child development centers and assistant teachers in early elementary and special needs classrooms. They also can work in recreational centers, Head Start programs, and school age programs. Students who transfer to complete a Bachelor’s degree will encounter more career opportunities.

  • To be employed in a child care setting, a criminal background check is required by North Carolina law.
  • A lead teacher in a child care center must earn the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential. This is generally accomplished by completing Edu. 119, Introduction to Early Childhood Education, a course offered at GTCC in the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • A director of a child care center must earn the North Carolina Early Childhood Administration Credential. To achieve the Level One Credential, a person completes Edu. 261, Early Childhood Administration I and Edu. 262, Early Childhood Administration II, and an additional 7 credits of early childhood coursework. All of these courses can be taken at GTCC.

Yes, many Early Childhood Education courses can be transferred.  Universities within the University of North Carolina system will accept up to 60 credit hours toward various Bachelor’s degrees, including those that lead to teacher licensure.