Abigail Jansen

finds passion for early childhood education

When she was a freshman, Abigail Jansen took the child development course at her high school to fulfill an elective credit. She didn’t know the class would ignite her passion for early childhood education and help define her future. Now, as a senior at Woodland High School in Marble Hill, Mo., Abigail has taken the child development course a total of three times and is part of her school’s Cadet Teaching Program.

Abigail says the Cadet Teaching Program helps match students with teachers who want help in their classrooms. For one hour a day, Abigail joins a preschool classroom, assisting with whatever is needed.

Abigail’s advice for working with young children is to “match their energy” and give them free choice. Often in her Cadet Teaching Program, she says the class will participate in learning activities and games together, followed by “free choice” where children can do “whatever their heart feels.”

“I think [free choice] is good, because they get the option and the choice for themselves, not having someone tell them what they can do or not do,” Abigail says.

She thinks hands-on activities are good for teaching children, and she gave an example of a recent activity from her Cadet Teaching classroom, in which students drew the alphabet with their fingers in shaving cream on their desks.

“[I like] just knowing that they can come there and be safe and have a fun time,” Abigail says.

Abigail says she has babysat for “as long as she could,” but taking the child development class and participating in the Cadet Teaching Program helped her realize she’d like to work in a daycare or classroom for preschool-aged children in the future.

Outside of school, Abigail works at the local McDonald’s, typically working eight-hour shifts on the weekends. She says working at the fast food restaurant has taught her people skills and helped her grow out of her shyness.

Abigail has plans to attend Southeast Missouri State University for the Fall 2023 semester and continue her studies in childhood development. She says she will be the first in her immediate family to attend college. Abigail says many people have encouraged her to pursue a higher education, but her grandmother, Glenda Jansen, has encouraged her the most. She has a close relationship with her grandmother, who is also her neighbor. Abigail often walks to her grandmother’s house to help her with cleaning and cooking.

“Overall, I just really like helping people,” Abigail says.

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