‘I’ve always had a passion for children’: Grant funding pushes Florence Darlington Technical College’s early childhood program forward

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:54 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:55 PM EST
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - In the Pee Dee, the Florence Darlington Technical College is on a mission to develop future leaders in early childhood.

Thanks to a new grant, more resources are now available to push the program forward.

Each year SC Endeavors awards technical colleges across the state funding for early childcare programs, and students at FDTC shared how the program is the foundation of their journey.

“It’s the children, they just do something to my heart to make me happy,” said, Florence Darlington Technical College student, Shanaya Gamble.

23-year-old Gamble is working toward her future and how becoming a student at FDTC wasn’t easy.

“I had my daughter two weeks before I turned nineteen, I started my journey at Francis Marion,” said Gamble. “I realized at the time I could not handle the workload, so I took some time off.”

During that time off, Gamble eventually found her way to the school’s early childhood program.

Most of the students in the program work in childcare facilities with career interests of childcare workers, directors or even teacher’s assistants.

Each year, SC Endeavors, a division of DSS early childcare and education awards technical colleges across the state $6,500 dollars towards professional development, resources and needed tools for childhood professionals.

But this year, each school was granted an additional $10,000.

I’ve always had a passion for children,” said Gamble. “Ever since I was little it seemed like it was just a calling on me so to say. I had a close family friend who was special needs, and after he passed away it really touched my heart if I can also in the future work with special needs as well.”

Leaders of FDTC’s early childhood program shared how the students have valued their time being a part so far.

“The students are greatly appreciative, I mean they really and truly are,” said Program Director for Early Care & Education, Elizabeth Crow.We have some absolutely wonderful students who are truly interested in early care and education and want to do well put all that they have into their work and they will make wonderful childcare workers, or directors, or teacher’s assistance.”

Through the funding, the program is set to create a student resource center that will include computers, children’s books, and any needed supplies to complete assignments and projects for students in the near future.

An additional instructor will also be added to teach the program.

As for Gamble, she’s grown even closer with others along her journey at FDTC.

“I have become like family not only with my peers but with my professors as well,” said Gamble. “They help out as much as they need they understand your personal life they understand what may come up”

Gamble said she will graduate with her Associate’s Degree this May and plans to transfer to a 4-year university, where she later wants to become a speech pathologist or special needs teacher.