Laurel Ridge student David Arthur knows that as a man in the preschool setting, he is a bit of a unicorn. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 99 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers in 2020 were women.
Since 2019, Arthur has been enrolled in early childhood development classes at Laurel Ridge. He first came to the college several years before to study information technology, but realized it wasn’t his calling.
“I chose a new career – early childhood education- and ended up falling in love with the job, and wanted to seek professional development,” Arthur said.
The 2009 Fresta Valley Christian School graduate has spent the past eight years working in early childhood education. Arthur started as a pre-kindergarten teacher, and within three years was a school director. Currently, he is a health and safety director at a Bright Horizons childcare center in Alexandria.
“I like to see the long-term impact that we have on children as they grow older,” Arthur said of early childhood educators. “We help make them more successful and better prepared for the world.”
Arthur is well aware that as a man he is a rarity in the world of early childhood education.
“Anywhere that I go, there’s only one other guy working in the school, or it’s just me,” he said.
Arthur, who will finish his degree in December, has particularly enjoyed working with professors Lori Killough and Stacey Park.
“Their ability to be attentive to my needs – it’s really difficult sometimes to try to work out a healthy work-life balance and attend school,” he said. “They were very accommodating and have been able to answer my questions and have given me a lot of guidance.
“I’ve basically turned my whole life around with Laurel Ridge. As a former drop-out student living on my own and working full time, I didn’t think this was achievable. I’m very proud of my accomplishments and thankful for the help I received from my professors.”
Arthur hopes to transfer to James Madison University to get his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. He has been financing his education mostly through grants available at his workplace.
However, early childhood development is one of the fields covered by the new G3 – Get a Skill, Get a Job, Get Ahead – program, which pays the remaining tuition after all scholarships and financial aid are applied for qualifying students. The program is open to lower and middle-income students enrolled in one of the following programs: early childhood development, healthcare, public safety, information technology, and manufacturing and skilled trades.
Learn more about the G3 program at laurelridge.edu/G3. For more about Laurel Ridge’s early childhood education program, visit https://laurelridge.edu/degree/early-childhood-development/.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.