Junior Jessie Miller has been working at daycares for all three years of her college career.
“I just really love children, so I’ve just always wanted to work with them,” Miller said. “I connect really well with them, and so one of the only places that you can work with them and not have a degree is in a daycare.”
At the Vucurevich Childcare Center — the University of South Dakota’s daycare center— she is able to float amongst the varying age groups, helping kids refine their motor skills, teaching manners and how to interact with other children appropriately, and the basics like colors, numbers and words at the preschool level.
“I get to see different ages, so like their developmental and learning abilities so I think that’ll be important with social work,” Miller said.
Dawna Andersen has been the director of the Vucurevich Childcare Center for a year and a half and said the student workers add a younger energy to the group of employees.
“They bring the new things they learn in class to the center, and it’s really neat to see the students as they’re learning to become teachers or learning to work with kids and people and how when they first start, they might be a little timid, and then once they’re here for a while, they’re interacting with parents and kids,” she said.
A majority of the workers are education students, she said, and sometimes they get involved at the center to fulfill practicum hours. The experience in learning about child development and classroom management is unique for students.
Senior Shana Boger has been working at the center for three years and said it seems that because the center is affiliated with USD, they work around class schedules.
“I’ve never really had to juggle anything, but it does make you more structured because if you know you have to work, then you only have so many hours to study,” Boger said.
She has been babysitting since she was in the sixth or seventh grade and is gaining hands-on experience while working with kids who are also learning through hands-on practice at the center.
“I love kids, babies are my preference, ‘cause they don’t talk back,” Boger said with a laugh.
Boger is an addiction studies major with sights set on being a substance abuse counselor and works with the six-week to 12-month-old babies at the center.
Boger said she thinks the time spent at the center helps prepare her and other students for real life and future jobs, no matter what the field.
Today, the babies she took care of her first year at USD have grown in three years.
“They’re a lot older now, and some of them know who I am because they have younger siblings, but some of them don’t even remember me. I’ll say, ‘Hey!’ and they just look at me like, ‘Who are you?” Boger said.
(Photo: Senior Shana Boger interacts with children in the Vucurevich Childcare Center. Boger works 20 to 25 hours per week, gaining experience for future opportunities upon graduating, no matter the field. Josie Flatgard / The Volante)