Expanding Learning for a Professional Edge

September 23, 2011 Purnell Cropper

By Erica Lamberg

It's been an exciting career progression for Obioma Martin. Before she started OMART Training and Development, a training business in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia that provides professional development workshops, technical assistance, mentoring, and coaching to child care providers and educators, Martin was on the front lines of the day care industry as an owner.

"I owned and operated a family daycare from 2002 until 2007, and in 2005 my daycare received a national credential from the National Association for Family Childcare and Keystone STAR 4," said Martin. "Both of these represent the highest level of quality that any childcare provider can receive."

In 2007, she received an associate's degree in early childhood education from Community College of Philadelphia and in 2010 she earned a Bachelor of Science in Childcare Management from Chestnut Hill College. "My husband and I started OMART Training and Development in 2009. We had the grand opening to our training facility on June 17, 2011," she said. OMART's facility is available to host private meetings, mini conferences and board meetings. The facility is handicap-accessible and offers free parking. There are two full-size classrooms, that can hold up to 40 attendees, lecture-style.

As she continues to grow her business, Martin said she realizes how a professional edge in this industry is paramount. She will begin courses this fall toward Arcadia University's 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Leadership. This new program is designed to provide leaders in early childhood education the tools they need to manage change in this quickly evolving field. Students learn to initiate and implement best practices to manage human resources and finances within their organizations, using data-driven decision making.

"I am interested in pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Leadership to strengthen my areas of weakness," said Martin. "I want to help everyone, and sometimes I over commit myself. I am very clear, however, on the things that I cannot do and the things that I can."

She said Arcadia's graduate certificate will enable her to see things from more than one viewpoint which will allow Martin to make in even greater impact in her community and abroad. "It will deepen my level of understanding, knowledge, expertise and commitment to the field and community in which I serve," added Martin. "I love to learn. My goal is to be a lifelong learner. This is my career goal. If I ever lose that then it's time for me to walk away from the field of early childhood care and education."

After receiving an email newsletter from the Keystone STARS regional office, Martin signed up for the certificate program. Arcadia is working through a collaboration with Southeast Regional Key which administers the Keystone STARS program on behalf of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.

"We're very excited to offer this new initiative in early childhood leadership," said Andrea Zeises, Director of Education Initiatives for Arcadia's Center for Adult and Professional Education. "The certificate is carefully designed with an understanding of what early childhood leaders need to reach the next level in their careers and provide their centers with best business practices."

And when Martin realized that Arcadia University had designed the curriculum and will be teaching the courses, she was even more committed to enrolling in the program. "Arcadia understands the needs of full-time working adults," Martin said. "Arcadia is flexible, and offers classes to meet the needs of every professional in the area of education and early learning."

Martin is a firm believer in the four courses needed to complete the Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Leadership. "Daycare owners, operators and directors need both leadership and management skills—it's not good enough to just be able to provide for children as an operator or director," said Martin. "It is crucial to understand the business of childcare in order for it to be profitable and successful."

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