North Point grad wins sil­ver medal in na­tional Skills com­pe­ti­tion

Charles County win­ner dis­plays pas­sion, knowl­edge of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

North Point High School grad­u­ate Jewel Wash­ing­ton said her dream is to help young minds ex­plore their world. Her pas­sion for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion has now been rec­og­nized on a na­tional stage.

Wash­ing­ton, 17, won the sil­ver medal at the 52nd An­nual Na­tional Lead­er­ship and Skills Con­fer­ence (NLSC), held in Louisville, Ky., June 20-24.

“Jewel is al­ways very pro­fes­sional. She rep­re­sented our school and county ex­tremely well,” said Melissa Palmer, North Point ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor.

Wash­ing­ton was one of 14 Mary­land stu­dents to win a medal in the com­pe­ti­tion, and the only one from Charles County.

El­iz­a­beth Lopez and Fiona Que­nano, also stu­dents at North Point High School, placed fifth in the Amer­i­can Spirit com­pe­ti­tion, and Alyssa Rabasco, a stu­dent at the Robert D. Stethem

Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­ter, won eighth place in Em­ploy­ment Ap­pli­ca­tion Process.

Skill­sUSA is a na­tional non­profit stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes and en­cour­ages ca­reer and tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion. Its mis­sion is “to em­power mem­bers to be­come world-class work­ers, lead­ers and re­spon­si­ble Amer­i­can cit­i­zens,” ac­cord­ing to the Skill­sUSA web­site.

Ap­prox­i­mately 6,500 state Skill­sUSA con­test win­ners — from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Vir­gin Is­lands — com­peted in the Skill­sUSA Cham­pi­onships in 87 dif­fer­ent trade, tech­ni­cal or lead­er­ship fields.

Con­tests are run with the help of in­dus­try, trade as­so­ci­a­tions and la­bor or­ga­ni­za­tions, and test com­pe­ten­cies are set by each in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to the Skill­sUSA web­site.

In or­der to com­pete, stu­dents must first place in their re­gional and state com­pe­ti­tions. This was Wash­ing­ton’s first year com­pet­ing.

Wash­ing­ton placed sec­ond in the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion held in Fe­bru­ary, and first in the Skill­sUSA Mary­land com­pe­ti­tion held in April.

“North Point swept the state com­pe­ti­tion for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion; we won first, sec­ond and third,” Palmer said.

Only first place win­ners go on to com­pete in the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

“I was shocked; I was so ex­cited, be­cause my in­struc­tors have been re­ally sup­port­ive of me, but I couln’t be­lieve that I was go­ing to be com­pet­ing in the na­tion­als,” Wash­ing­ton said.

In the Early Child­hood Ed­u­ca­tion com­pe­ti­tion, stu­dents must demon­strate their knowl­edge of de­vel­op­men­tally ap­pro­pri­ate prac­tice and their abil­ity to de­sign and im­ple­ment learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren ages 3 to 5, by pre­par­ing a writ­ten les­son plan and tak­ing a writ­ten test that as­sesses their knowl­edge of child de­vel­op­ment and ef­fec­tive teach­ing strate­gies, ac­cord­ing to the Skill­sUSA web­site.

“She spent hours in her room prac­tic­ing. While ev­ery­one else was go­ing out to din­ner or the mu­seum, she was work­ing on her les­son plans,” Palmer said.

Wash­ing­ton said she felt she had done well, but was sur­prised when it was an­nounced she had come in sec­ond.

“I had ex­pected to place in the top 10, be­cause I knew I had done my best and I thought I had done enough to get a cer­tifi­cate,” Wash­ing­ton said. “But peo­ple from around the coun­try were com­pet­ing for this.”

When her name hadn’t been called by the time they an­nounced third place, Wash­ing­ton as­sumed she hadn’t placed in the top 10. When they called her name for sec­ond, she said she was stunned.

“When they said my name for sec­ond [place], I just sat there,” Wash­ing­ton said. “It was just so sur­pris­ing. I’m never go­ing to for­get that.”

Wash­ing­ton joined the ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at North Point, one of the 17 sci­ence and tech­ni­cal pro­grams at the school, with a fo­cus on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

“I have a large fam­ily, and when we were ex­posed to all the ca­reer op­tions at North Point, early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion was the only one that went along with my per­son­al­ity,” Wash­ing­ton said.

Wash­ing­ton had the op­por­tu­nity to work at the li­censed day­care for 2- to 5-year-olds op­er­ated by the school, which she said def­i­nitely helped her with the com­pe­ti­tion and helped to ce­ment her fu­ture ca­reer goals.

“I think this age is very im­por­tant, it’s crit­i­cal to their fu­ture de­vel­op­ment,” Wash­ing­ton said. “You can walk in every day and know that you’re mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their lives.”

Wash­ing­ton said she will be at­tend­ing the Univer­sity of Mary Wash­ing­ton in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., in the fall, and plans to dou­ble ma­jor in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and psy­chol­ogy.

“I ei­ther want to own my own early child­hood cen­ter or work in therapy with chil­dren in this age range,” Wash­ing­ton said. “I haven’t fig­ured it out yet, but my ideal ca­reer would be to do both.”

Wash­ing­ton said she is grate­ful to the chil­dren she’s worked with, their fam­i­lies, and her teach­ers.

“I feel like this field has made me a bet­ter per­son,” Wash­ing­ton said. “They have re­ally had an im­pact on me.”

Palmer said Wash­ing­ton has all the es­sen­tial qual­i­ties of an ed­u­ca­tor.

“She gets it; there is an aspect to teach­ing that you just can’t teach some­one, and she has it,” Palmer said. “If she chooses to go into teach­ing she will be a phe­nom­e­nal teacher.”

Jewel Wash­ing­ton, cen­ter, wears her sil­ver medal from the na­tional Skill­sUSA com­pe­ti­tion, along with North Point High School ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tors Ni­co­lette Kirby, left, and Melissa Palmer.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Jewel Wash­ing­ton, a re­cent grad­u­ate of North Point High School, holds her cer­tifi­cate for win­ning sec­ond place in the na­tional Skill­sUSA com­pe­ti­tion in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

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