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First Early Childhood Apprentice Completes Training with Northeast

First Early Childhood Apprentice Completes Training with Northeast

PENDER, Neb. -- Trudy Kramer is not your “typical” college student, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing a college education to enhance her career working with young children.

Kramer – or Miss Trudy as she is known by the preschool children – serves as co-teacher at Little Sprouts Child Development Center in Pender. She is the first student to complete the Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program at Northeast Community College. 

“Apprenticeship is an ‘Earn and Learn’ program where students obtain paid employment while attending classes and training for a new career,” saids Henry Goeden, Apprenticeship coordinator at Northeast. “It’s a great pathway for any individual who wants to start a new career but also needs to work and earn an income. We serve both young students and working adults.” 

Early Childhood classes are offered in a flexible format which allows students to complete their studies fully remote from campus as they work in the field. Apprentices can also take advantage of the TEACH Scholarship to cover nearly all educational costs with support from their employer.  

“The program is an all-around win for childcare,” said Goeden. “The apprentice earns an income and paid education, the employer gains a skilled employee, and our communities receive a much-needed childcare worker.” 

Reflecting on her experience in the program, Kramer shares that she uses the classroom knowledge daily. 

“The knowledge I gained through the apprenticeship has increased my confidence in working with kids at the center,” Kramer said. “I’ve appreciated that at my age, I can still pursue a college education through the apprenticeship program.” 

She also jokingly added that the program has given her one extra credential that her daughter, who also works at Little Sprouts, doesn’t have. 

Mandy Baker, director at Little Sprouts Child Development Center, served as Kramer’s apprenticeship mentor.  

“The apprenticeship program has strengthened Trudy’s knowledge of child development, and she uses it every day. This program has helped reinforce the work she is already doing at the center.” 

Co-workers shared that Trudy has experienced many “aha moments” during which concepts learned in class have directly applied to real-life situations and new activities with kids at the center. 

After completing the Early Childhood Certificate and Apprenticeship Program, Kramer set out for a new personal goal. 

“I’m now enrolled in additional classes and am on track to complete my associate degree in May of 2025,” she said. 

To learn more about becoming an apprentice or partnering employer, visit Northeast Apprenticeships

Early Childhood Apprentice cutline 
Trudy Kramer (middle) is awarded an apprenticeship certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. She is joined by Henry Goeden, Apprenticeship coordinator at Northeast Community College (left) and Mandy Baker, director of Little Sprouts Child Development Center (right). (Northeast Community College)