Education & Early Childhood

Young students in a classroom

With three pathways to choose from – a Certificate, an Associate of Arts Degree or an Associate of Applied Science Degree – you can jump start your career in field of early education.  Learn the theories and gain experience to begin a rewarding career working with children.

Program Details

Here, you’ll gain both a theoretical foundation and practical experiences to prepare you for a career in education, whether your goal is a certificate, an associate degree, or the first two years of transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s degree. Learn more about our Education programs and find course descriptions in the WCJC Catalog.

Academic Maps

There are three programs within the academic program that give you options depending on your career goals. Learn more about the various programs by reviewing the academic maps.

  • Early Education A.A.S. is a four-semester, 60-credit-hour program that prepares you for an early childhood career that doesn’t require teacher certification. With the A.A.S. you can find a career immediately after graduation.
  • Elementary Education A.A. is four semesters and 60 credit hours. This program will prepare you to transfer to a four-year school to continue your education and earn a teaching certificate.
  • Early Education Level 1 Certificate is a two-semester, 15-credit-hour program that prepares you for a career in early childhood/child development instruction or administration and satisfies the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, and The Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition-CDA credential requirements.

Achieve your professional goals in the field of education. Here are job options, degrees required, and median salaries:

  • Teaching assistants (Certificate, A.A.S.): $29,300
  • Preschool teachers (Certificate, A.A.S.): $42,270
  • Education Childcare Administrators, Preschool and Daycare (A.A.S.): $45,100
  • Elementary School Teachers (Bachelor’s): $61,950
  • School Psychologist (Master’s): $79.690

Find more information, including wages and education requirements, on Career Coach!

Teacher and young students

Plan Your Classes & Transfer Smoothly

Conceptual Framework

These are the three components of our associate degree programs - theory, application and outreach.

At WCJC, our mission is to educate the total person – and we hope that you, as a future educator, strive to educate the total person as well. That’s why our Department of Education/Early Childhood teaches several theories of child development. Children develop in different ways simultaneously – physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally – and we prepare students with a comprehensive theoretical foundation. In addition, because children develop within a unique social-cultural context in a particular historical setting, we apply contextual theorists (Piaget, Maslow, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner, and Erikson) to the study of children. 

We teach you a variety of theories to interpret children’s development within the context of the family, childcare setting, peer group, educational setting, and the larger community. You’ll analyze theories for their strengths and shortcomings from an objective, logical perspective. This belief aligns with WCJC’s mission to encourage the pursuit of knowledge, with the department’s mission to increase students’ knowledge about child development and best practices in Early Childhood Education, and with NAEYC Standards.

We equip teacher candidates with a scientific approach to evaluating and understanding children through observation, assessment, and interpretation of observable behavior and patterns. This approach aligns with the methods of Montessori, Gesell, Piaget, Parten, Ainsworth, and others and supports the WCJC mission to promote the development of the total person through the scholarly and creative activity as well as NAEYC Standard 3: Observing, documenting, and assessing to support young children and families. 

Afterward, candidates apply observational data to the creation of developmentally appropriate environments and guidance (NAEYC Standard 3: Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with Children and Families). This follows WCJC’s mission to apply knowledge for the good of the community, and the department’s mission to create optimum children’s programs in the larger community. The associate degree offers students a broad foundation of general education courses in communication, math/science, humanities/fine arts, and social-behavioral science supporting their ability to use content knowledge to build meaningful curriculum (NAEYC Standard 2).

As an Associate degree student, you’ll work with families of children in the communities where they live. You’ll develop strategies and skills to work with these families (in their various forms) and community members. This supports the department’s mission to facilitate the creation of optimum children’s programs in the larger community and NAEYC Standard 2: Building family and community relationships. We’ll guide you to incorporate a professional, yet nurturing attitude by observing the modeling of instructors, respectfully participating in class and engaging in observational and lab experiences in the community, in alignment with NAEYC Standard 7: Early Childhood Field Experiences. The program does not have a lab school, so affiliations with child care and educational programs within the community provide varied field experiences for candidates who then practice professional conduct, guided observations, and reflective teaching during a sequence of capstone experiences. To ensure diverse exposure, we use a “content verification form” with a range of required categories to be visited. This supports WCJC’s mission to provide opportunities for individual growth and expression, the Department’s mission to support the fullest achievement of each student’s potential, and NAEYC Standard 6: Becoming a professional.
Following WCJC’s mission to benefit the community and the program’s mission to provide optimum early childhood programs for the larger community, we seek the advice of professionals from the Early Childhood field who work in Wharton, Matagorda, and Fort Bend counties through the Early Childhood Advisory Board. Each semester, feedback from the board helps assure that the Early Childhood program accomplishes the college’s mission to prepare graduates for entry-level positions, advancement in various occupations, and for transfer to baccalaureate granting institutions. Additionally, this advances the program’s mission to support the fullest achievement of each student’s potential.

Meet the Faculty

Reach out to our instructors if you have any questions about the program.

Sandra McCarstle earned her Master of Education degree in Elementary Education and her Master of Arts degree in Developmental Education from Texas State University. She is a doctoral candidate in Developmental Education at Texas State. Her experience includes teaching middle school and working as an early childhood educator for over two decades.

Office: Wharton Campus
Phone: 979-532-6340

Amber Barbee has a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Houston, Victoria. Mrs. Barbee is Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified School Counselor and is the Director of Counseling and Disability Services for Wharton County Junior College. Mrs. Barbee has been an educator, administrator, and director since 2000 and joined the Department of Education/Early Childhood as a faculty member in 2023. 


Dana Foyt has a Master's degree in Administration and Supervision and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from The University of Houston-Victoria. Ms. Foyt has been an Early Childhood educator and administrator since 2000 and joined the Department of Education/Early Childhood at Wharton County Junior College as an adjunct instructor in 2009. 


Meghan Kaminski earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She serves as the assistant director and curriculum coordinator with a special focus on early literacy at Gingerbread Kids Academy in Richmond. She joined the adjunct faculty in 2020.


Barbra Lynn earned her Master of Arts degree in Child Development and Family Relationships from the University of Texas at Austin and her Principal Certification from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. She has served as a teacher in special education, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten and as a college instructor at Wharton County Junior College, Alvin Community College, and the University of Houston Clear Lake (adjunct faculty).


Willie Mae Miles has a Master of Education degree in Guidance and Counseling from Delta State University in Mississippi. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Mississippi. Ms. Miles retired from Lamar Consolidated Independent School District after serving as an elementary special education teacher and behavior specialist. She joined the Department of Education/ Early Childhood as an adjunct instructor in 2012.


Ashley Quintana earned her Master’s degree in Reading from the University of Texas. She is an educator in Lamar CISD and has over 10 years of experience in a variety of roles serving young children from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade. She joined the adjunct faculty in 2020.


Sharon Spillman earned her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and M. Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Houston. Dr. Spillman currently serves as the President of Programs at Collaborative for Children in Houston. Associate Director, State Initiatives at the Children’s Learning Institute. Dr. Spillman received the 2010 Educator of the Year Award from the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children and is active in the National Association for Young Children, Texas AEYC, and Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA). 


Additional Program Information

Early Education Level 1 Certificate

  • Tuition/Fees In-District: $1,695
  • Tuition/Fees Out-District: $2,535
  • Tuition/Fees Out-State: $3,315
  • Books: $291

Early Education A.A.S. and Elementary Education A.A.

  • Tuition/Fees In-District: $6,540
  • Tuition/Fees Out-District: $9,900
  • Tuition/Fees Out-State: $13,020
  • Books: $1,810

The Education and Early Childhood Development program provides the necessary academic requirements needed to satisfy state (Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services) credential requirements. The AAS Early Childhood Development Degree at Wharton County Junior College is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, The current accreditation term runs from July 2019 through July 2026.
View NAEYC Graduate Data for the A.A.S. degree
View 13 Outcome Measures Reported to NAEYC for Higher Education Accreditation 06-14-2023.docx

Education Administrative Master Syllabi

Early Childhood Administrative Master Syllabi

Archived Administrative Master Syllabi

SCANS Matrix

  • Milton Burrell, Site Supervisor/Family Engagement for Wharton Head Start Program, Bay City, TX
  • Amy Dutcher, Director, Small Blessings, Wharton, TX
  • Dana Foyt, Principal, Industrial Elementary School, Adjunct Faculty, Wharton, TX
  • Lori Garcia, CEA-FCS Wharton County Texas A&M, AgrLife Extension Service, Wharton, TX
  • Dianne Gertson (Chair, Advisory Board), Texas AgriLife Extension, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg, TX
  • Meghan Kaminski, Assistant Director and Curriculum, Coordinator, Gingerbread Kids Academy, Adjunct Faculty, Rosenberg, TX
  • Tim Kaminski, Director, Gingerbread House and Gingerbread Academy, Rosenberg, TX
  • Inez Kucera, Principal, Newgulf Elementary School, Boling, TX
  • Diane Lancaster, Director, Jump Start Christian Academy, Fulshear, TX
  • Willie Mae Miles, Behavior Specialist, Lamar Consolidated ISD (retired), Adjunct Faculty, Richmond, TX

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