Early Childhood Education


WPCC Early Childhood Education Faculty

Kasey Gardner, Program Coordinator

e-mail: kgardner@wpcc.edu

Photo of Kasey Gardner

Kasey Gardner & Family with Her Sister

Hi! My name is Kasey Gardner and I am excited to begin my new journey as the Early Childhood Coordinator at WPCC. Most currently, I was the Exceptional Children’s Preschool Coordinator for Burke County Public Schools. My career began over 20 years ago with preschool students in the school system. I have also been an Adjunct Instructor with WPCC for the past three years. It has been an honor to share my experiences and knowledge with adult learners. My degrees in Psychology and B-K are from Appalachian State and Western Carolina. I received my Master’s Degree in B-K education from East Carolina University. I am married to a fellow educator and have two boys. They keep me very busy with sports! In my spare time I enjoy going to the movies and on family vacations.

My road to early childhood began with the birth of my sister when I was 17 years old. Having a baby/toddler at home during college opened my eyes to a field I had not thought about previously. My career began in Head Start as a Transition Coordinator and then I found my true calling as a Prek teacher in a Developmental Day classroom that was 50/50 children with and without disabilities. My passion is with preschool age children and my heart is with the children and families in the exceptional children’s program. Early intervention is the key to later success in life and school. Preschool children are excited to learn and explore through play and their senses. Early childhood education is vital to becoming a lifelong learner.

Crystal Stephens

e-mail: cstephens@wpcc.edu

Crystal Stephens

Crystal Stephens

My name is Crystal Stephens and I have an addiction to school supplies and books.  Admitting the problem is the first step to solving it, but seriously…I have ALWAYS wanted to be a teacher since I first started school and fell in love with my teacher and the way she checked off her lists and kept things in her “magical” notebook.  Now I have way too many lists to check and more magical notebooks than I care to speak of, but I love love love teaching and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  I earned a BS in Elementary Education from Gardner-Webb University in 1996, my Masters in Elementary Education from GWU in 1999 and my Masters of School Administration from ASU in 2003.  I have been an elementary school teacher for 20 years– teaching 7 years in 2nd grade, 8 years in 5th grade and this is my 5th year in first grade.  I don’t really have a favorite… I have enjoyed them all. There are fun and exciting things about every grade. I started teaching at WPCC almost 12 years ago — WOW and enjoy having the opportunity to share my knowledge and advice with future teachers. I have always and still do believe that one person can make a difference and teach my students (both the littles and the bigs) that they can truly make a difference and they are important. The “what” we teach is important, but the “who” we teach is the “why” we keep doing it.  This is my philosophy of teaching and keeps me excited and motivated year after year.

My life outside the classroom is filled with adrenaline, dirtbikes, barbells and adventure.  I have both my Crossfit and Crossfit kids certification and I compete in many competitions. My love of sharing knowledge extends to the fitness world too, as I coach a girls running club at my school and compete in 5k races and triathlons.  My family feeds my adventure addiction as we all race dirtbikes on many weekends and I am fortunate enough to spend a great deal of quality time with my 16 year old son, 14 year old daughter and my awesome incredible husband of almost 20 years.  Life is about balance — and mine is full of joy, happiness and love, so I am able to share that with the people in my life!!!

Paula Arrowood

e-mail: parrowood@wpcc.edu

Photo of Paula Arrowood with her Children

Paula Arrowood with Family

My name is Paula Arrowood. I have two teenage children, one in high school and the other in middle school. Needless to say, the majority of my “non-working” hours are spent driving them to and from their countless social events and supporting their love of sports (basketball, cheerleading, and soccer). When possible, I enjoy reading and spending time with friends. I have family on the coast, so I also enjoy getaways to the beach as often as possible!

My journey in the field of education began over twenty years ago as a first grade teacher in Burke County. After only a few years of teaching, I developed a love of literacy instruction, especially with struggling readers. It was this love that prompted my completion of a Master’s Degree in Reading Education and Learning Disabilities. During my years as an elementary teacher, I taught first, second, and fifth grades, and after obtaining National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist, I was asked to give preschool special education a try. While I immediately fell in love with preschool-aged children, the teaching position was well out of my comfort zone! I quickly began reading and researching about instruction and development in the early years and attending as much professional development as possible, ultimately gaining my Birth-to-Kindergarten Certification. Since first entering this arena, I have worked in a variety of roles across several different settings. My current position is Preschool Instructional Facilitator for Caldwell County Schools. In this role, I as regularly serve as a district trainer, SEFEL coach, peer evaluator, ECERS-R coach, Autism evaluator and provider of general, on-going teacher support, for both school and community-based classrooms. I still carry my love of literacy instruction and feel strongly about empowering young children to see themselves as readers and writers. Early childhood education has become what I anticipate to be a life-long passion, and I am so excited about the opportunity to inspire other adults who are just beginning their teaching journey!

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