May 28, 2019
Story by Julie Fiedler
They say necessity is the mother of invention. That was certainly the driving force behind Melissa Huff’s decision to reinvent herself and study early childhood education.
While Huff was serving in the National Guard and working full time, there wasn’t a daycare option available in her community. When her service term with the Guard ended, she decided to start her own daycare. Years later, she wanted to study early childhood education to advance her career.
“I really love helping children, so early childhood education was a natural fit for me,” she said. “I love learning about how children develop. As a mother, I saw my kids reaching milestones and everything they did was so cute. As a professional, I see children going through stages of development—babies grasping, crossing the midline, children stacking blocks—and I can see they’re on track developmentally.”
When Huff was looking for a program, she did her homework. She consulted Military One Source, a resource for military families, and MyCAA, a scholarship program for military spouses. She learned a lot of MyCAA recipients had successfully gone through BARTonline. The school’s reputation and affordability were deciding factors for her to enroll, and she’s found she loves the online learning environment.
“I love the flexibility. With my six children and my daycare, I do not have the time or ability to sit in a class,” she said. “I enjoy reading and doing research on my own, then having interaction online.”
The interaction Huff has with her advisor, professors and fellow students have been her favorite part of the program.
“Even though I’m not physically there, we email several times a week. My advisor, Roni Wertz, is a phenomenal woman. She is so understanding and inspirational. I don’t think I could do this without her,” she said.
Wertz, who serves as an advisor, instructor and coordinator for the Early Childhood program at Barton, said working with students like Huff who are self-motivated is a pleasure.
“A perk of advising is getting to experience the merging of a student’s passion about their education with their unique everyday lives. Getting to witness Barton students transform their education into a creative and inspirational journey where they positively impact entire communities plus make magic happen in the lives of children, really makes my occupation less of a job and more like a cheerleader for a successful ‘play’ experience,” Wertz said.
Huff is currently working toward an associate degree in Early Childhood Education and professional development certification in Child Development at BARTonline. She plans to graduate in June 2020 and hopes to become a teacher one day.
“I would really love to teach early childhood education to other young professionals and impart my knowledge like my professors have done for me,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s using her experience and education to make a difference by opening a daycare center to serve more families in her community. It’s that drive to help that recently earned Huff a scholarship for $2,500 from Worthy.
Her advice to others interested in early childhood education is to talk to as many different professionals as they can to get an idea of what type of career they’d like with children. Even learning what you’re not interested in is helpful.
“Be reflective in your choices and take into account all the possibilities there are,” she said. “When I connected with my advisor at BARTonline, I learned that I wanted to go in the daycare direction and take a supervisory role in the field. I’m very grateful to Barton for providing me these opportunities.”
For more information on and to apply to the Worthy Women’s Scholarship, visit https://www.worthy.com/blog/career/2019-worthy-womens-scholarship/.
For more information on and to see if you’re eligible for MyCAA, visit https://mycaa.militaryonesource.mil/mycaa.