BOONE, N.C. — Kaitlyn Helton is an instructional support associate in McDowell County’s Head Start program — and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in child development-birth through kindergarten (licensure) through Appalachian State University’s App State Online.
“Working while taking classes at App State has made projects and assignments so much easier because I am already in the classroom. I have been able to immediately apply techniques as I learn them,” Helton said.
Helton, a junior from Marion, earned an Associate of Applied Science in early childhood education from McDowell Technical Community College before transferring to App State last fall.
Helton’s current job serves as one of the field experiences required for her major. She said the connections she has made with App State faculty and online students have helped her acclimate and feel like a member of the Mountaineer community.
McDowell County Head Start is part of the federally funded early childhood program designed to prepare children for kindergarten. Helton assists the teacher in her classroom with teaching and caring for the children, as well as documenting when students meet goals such as learning letters of the alphabet, counting and language skills.
Helping a child learn to write his name led to a defining moment for Helton, she said. “The little boy was really struggling, and we kept practicing, day after day. When he finally succeeded, he was so excited. It hit me that I was part of that experience for him, and that’s when I knew I was in the right field,” she shared.
In her App State Online classes, Helton said she collaborates with her fellow students — most of whom are also working in the field. “We have group chats and communicate frequently. Because of the pandemic, the education field is very different right now. We’ve been able to share experiences with one another,” she said.
When the McDowell County Head Start program transitioned to remote teaching in late November 2020, Helton said she was able to apply what she was studying in a digital teaching class. “In the class, we were learning about what children need and what is developmentally appropriate for a 3-year-old’s mind — and I was able to incorporate that into my teaching,” she said.
After graduating from App State, Helton plans to teach kindergarten. “I know my education through Appalachian will help me achieve my goals,” she said.
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About Transfer Admissions and Engagement
Transfer Admissions and Engagement at Appalachian State University supports students through all stages of their transfer journey, including admission counseling and pretransfer advising, credit evaluation, transitional assistance as they begin at App State and through involvement and retention efforts during their App State education. The office serves undergraduate transfer students studying on the main campus in Boone as well as App State Online students who complete their classes fully online or at an off-site location. The services and resources provided by Transfer Admissions and Engagement ensure the university’s transfer student population finds academic and social success at App State. Learn more at https://transfer.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian State University offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls more than 2,000 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.