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Passion for helping kids leads to career growth at Early Head Start

Erin Murphy always dreamed of being a preschool teacher, but she never could have imagined the opportunities and benefits that came with working at Community Progress Council’s Early Head Start program.

When Erin Murphy was in second grade, she dressed up as a teacher for career day. Years later, when her younger sister started pre-school, Erin confidently told her mom that she was going to work there some day.

Sure enough, Erin’s first job was at that preschool.

Five years ago, she was looking for a change. As a single mom, she needed a job that also offered health and retirement benefits. In her previous job, she’d had to choose between having insurance or having childcare for her daughter. She chose childcare.

Then she discovered Community Progress Council (CPC). The agency offers an array of services to low-income families throughout York County, including early childhood education programs.

CPC offered Erin health insurance and higher pay than she had previously received. She jumped at the opportunity and began working as an Early Head Start teacher at their Cottage Place location in York.

“I just love it,” Erin says. “When you work at any early childhood education facility, you’re impacting those kids’ lives, but these kids come from backgrounds where it’s just more influential. It’s really rewarding working here.”

 

Seeing student transformation

She remembers one 14-month-old boy who had been in and out of foster care when he began Early Head Start, a child development program for pregnant people and low-income families with children up to 3 years old. He was barely walking and talking, but was already aggressively lashing out.

Erin patiently worked with him, then moved up with him to the 2- and 3-year-old classroom. Early Head Start became a safe space where he bonded with his teachers.

When the boy returned this past year for his final year of Head Start, the changes were evident.

“He is just the greatest little guy,” she says, “so smart and articulate, and every time he sees me, he says, ‘Can I have a hug?’”

 

Connecting deeper with families

Unlike many programs, Head Start and Early Head Start connect on a deep level with families and students.

“CPC really empowers us to build those relationships with the whole family,” Erin says.

Staff make home visits before a student starts the program and again throughout the year. This has helped Erin have a deeper understanding of the adversity her students and families go through on a daily basis.

“I’ve always been compassionate, but even more so now,” she says. “You never know somebody’s whole story. Our families are going through so much, and that we can be a support here is fantastic.”

 

Taking the next step

In October 2021, Erin’s boss was promoted and encouraged Erin to apply for her role as an Education Coordinator. Erin was hesitant but decided to go for it.

She also began taking advantage of the Tuition Reimbursement program to complete her master’s degree from Penn State York. Part of that program includes a Director’s Certificate, which will allow Erin to run a Head Start program in the future.

Whether or not she chooses that path, Erin knows that at CPC, she’s making a real difference in people’s lives.

“Anybody could do this job, but you just have to have a passion for helping other people,” she says. “I want to help, and there are so many ways to do that through CPC.”

 

A career awaits

Join Erin and many others at Community Progress Council as a Head Start teacher. A competitive salary, full benefits and generous PTO, and growth opportunities are available. Apply today.

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