A dedication to students, a passion for teaching, and a wealth of experience are what made Early Childhood Education instructors Carolyn Beal and Jessica Day the obvious choices for the Southwestern Illinois College full- and part-time Faculty Members of the Year Awards, respectively.
Beal, of Belleville, is an ECE professor and the ECE and Education program coordinator, who has been with the program for 30 years. Not only does Beal care about her college students, but she cares deeply about improving the profession.
“Watching the enthusiasm when a student realizes they have found their calling in this profession is amazing,” Beal said. “Graduation is one of my favorite things about teaching at SWIC. Witnessing students and their families celebrate either persistence in finally completing a degree or being the first in the family with a college degree.”
Beal has led the initiative for SWIC to become a Gateways Entitled Institution, which provides community college students opportunities to earn credentials while completing coursework. She also co-authored and was awarded a $25,000 ICCB Competency-Based Education Grant. As a result, Beal and her ECE adjunct instructors created modules with avatars in classroom simulations. They also created self-paced, competency-based modules for those who are currently working in ECE centers.
In addition to her duties as program coordinator, she teaches Intro to Early Childhood Education, Child Growth and Development, Child Health Maintenance, Early Childhood Practicum, and Child Family and Community.
“Carolyn Beal is the ideal educator. She is a known commodity state wide with her ECE colleagues,” said Chief Academic Officer Gina Segobiano, Ed.D. “She is someone who is not only well educated herself but is also compassionate and understanding, and elevates everyone around her through her commitment to the program. Her representation of SWIC and advocacy for the ECE program is commended.”
Beal earned her Associate in Arts in Psychology from SWIC, then known as Belleville Area College, in 1984, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from McKendree University in 1986, and Master of Science in Psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1993.
Previously she worked with the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative as a school psychologist and at My Friend’s House, child care center in Mascoutah as a teacher/director.
She and her husband, Jim, have one son, Elijah, and one daughter, Annika.
Day, of Trenton, has been with SWIC since 2012, first with the Culinary Arts and Food Management program, then as an adjunct ECE instructor, and served as a dual credit instructor since 2016, first at O’Fallon Township High School from 2009 to 2020, then at Triad High School from 2020 to the present. After changing school districts, she developed additional dual credit opportunities at her new school.
She, along with Beal, participated in the $25,000 ICCB grant project which created online, self-paced modules and virtual reality scenarios, plus an institutional grant for increased technology in assessment.
“Education is what remains after students have left the classroom, which is why every class needs to be informational, relevant, and impactful,” Day said. “My job as a teacher is to connect students to content so that they can focus on its implementation in their own unique way.”
At SWIC, Day teaches Growth and Development of Children, Introduction to Early Childhood Education, Intro to Educational Technology, Child Health Maintenance, and Safety and Sanitation.
Day also incorporates service learning into her dual credit courses. While teaching at OTHS, Day sponsored the OTHS Interact Club, which was also sponsored by the local Rotary Club. The student group conducted research to learn more about the needs of those in Malawi, Africa. Day’s students collected and sent more than 3,500 books to Mawali and raised more than $500 for shipping and other costs associated with the project.
“By keeping the students engaged in course content, they are more likely to experience success,” said SWIC Dean of Arts and Sciences Mary Ruettgers, Ed.D. “She is very approachable, well liked, and respected by the dual credit students. These qualities enhance student achievement.”
Day earned her Bachelor of Science in Workforce Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2008 and her Master of Public Administration and Policy Analysis from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in 2019. She would love to pursue a doctorate in organizational leadership in the future and use that knowledge to help continue program growth not only at the collegiate level but also within our local schools.
In addition, she works as a corporate trainer at the Corporate Training Center since 2012 and previously worked as an assistant teacher at the Southern Illinois University Child Development Laboratory from 2006 to 2008.
Day and her husband, Michael, have three daughters, Maddie, Makenna and Hallie, and one son, Beau.
Beal and Day were also nominated by the college for the Illinois Community College Trustee Association’s Outstanding Full-time and Part-time Faculty Member of the Year honors.
For more information about SWIC, visit swic.edu/ece.