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ECS students get financial boost from Lullaboo

Students in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Early Childhood Studies (ECS) program are now eligible for two new annual scholarships that recognize commitment to the field of early childhood education.

Established by Lullaboo Nursery and Childcare Center, the two scholarships — each for $2,500 per year — will be awarded annually to Early Childhood Studies students who have demonstrated passion and commitment to working with children aged 0-4.

The Lullaboo scholarships are geared toward students who are focused on early childhood education specifically, and they are being established at an important time in the profession. Not only is there currently a well-publicized shortage of qualified early childhood educators in the field, but ECEs are also increasingly taking on a position of leadership within the profession and making their voices heard on larger issues relating to education and childcare.

Photo of Lullaboo staff visiting Guelph-Humber

Irini Mikhael, Chief Operating Officer for Lullaboo Nursery and Childcare Center and members of her team visited Guelph-Humber’s campus in December to see Guelph-Humber’s campus and the areas where their future placement students and employees study.

For Mikhael, creating the scholarships for Guelph-Humber students came about for a few reasons- the first was her aunt who was an employee at Humber College.

She would often tell Ms. Mikhael about how great the students were, but also expressed her fears about students struggling financially with tuition.

Photo of Lullaboo staff visiting Guelph-Humber

Secondly, it was also the type of students she saw coming from the university for placements and their impact, specifically referencing ECS student Madison Bonneville who is currently on placement at Lullaboo.

“The amazing work we see your students do. When your students come to our facility, they are different. They are well-rounded. They are ready. They want to be there and they understand childcare, Ms. Mikhael said.

Finally, it was her commitment to education- “Education is really embedded in my blood and this is why we chose the program.”

Early Childhood Studies students have worked at Lulllaboo’s award-winning nursery and childcare facilities for years as part of the University of Guelph-Humber’s field practicum program, where ECS students gain 800 hours of practical professional experience over the course of four years in parallel with their studies at Guelph-Humber.

“We are grateful for Lullaboo’s continued support of the students at Guelph-Humber. Lullaboo provides opportunities for our students to gain practical real-world experience and now with the addition of these new scholarships, Early Childhood Studies students will continue to promote and lead in the field of early childhood education,” said Dr. Melanie Spence-Ariemma, Vice-Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

Early Childhood Studies Program Head, Dr. Nikki Martyn echoed Mikhael’s sentiments on the skill of students at Guelph-Humber.

Photo of Lullaboo staff visiting Guelph-Humber

“It is wonderful that Lullaboo has recognized University of Guelph-Humber students for their passion, for their professionalism, and for showing exceptionality in the field of early childhood education,” said Dr. Martyn.

A long partnership

During the COVID-19 pandemic — when early childhood educators were among those frontline workers who continued working under impossibly stressful conditions — Lullaboo helped Guelph-Humber students get the invaluable professional experience they needed when other facilities were closed.

“We appreciate the great partnership we have had for many years with Lullaboo Nursery and Child Care Centers. This relationship has been particularly important throughout the pandemic, which was very difficult for our field,” said Jenni Mastroianni, Field Placement Coordinator for Early Childhood Studies.

“Lullaboo continued to offer emergency care for children during the pandemic, and we were grateful they continued to support our students through practicums during a time of great stress and uncertainty.

By the time they graduate, Guelph-Humber’s Early Childhood Studies students have completed hands-on professional work experience in their field over the course of seven different practicums. During that time, students gain experience working with children ranging in age from infancy to 12 years old in a diverse range of integrated settings, including hospitals, schools, daycare centres, early-learning facilities, and pre-schools, to name just a few.

“This scholarship is wonderful because it’s focused specifically on the early childhood educator,” Dr. Martyn said. “That highlights the fact that ECE is a regulated profession with ethical regulations, standards, and practices that are in place to ensure children are cared for and educated in a way that is in their best interests.”

“This scholarship really highlights the value and importance of ECEs and the profession itself. Lullaboo is offering this opportunity to support students to really become leaders in ECE, and to envision a new world for the profession.”