Colorado nonprofit recruits older adults to fill critical positions in early childhood education

Program is bringing older Coloradans out of retirement
Early Childhood Service Corps.jpg
Posted at 9:10 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 12:09:54-04

GOLDEN, Colo. — An adult-size chair isn’t part of the job description for Mike Van Meter. As an assistant teacher at Thrive Preschool in Golden, the 78-year-old now spends most of his days on the floor playing with blocks or reading stories.

“It is in service to my community, giving back to my community and in a meaningful way,” Van Meter said.

Van Meter re-entered the workforce in 2022 as a substitute teacher with the Early Childhood Service Corps. The nonprofit matches older adults to part-time jobs in early childhood education. Founder and executive director Lisa Armao said these jobs are often difficult to fill.

“Most people want full time work but older adults are happy working three hours a day,” Armao said.

The Early Childhood Service Corps has now trained 110 older adults to be part-time substitute teachers. A few, including Mike, have gone on to full-time teaching jobs.

The program offers a training course at no cost to participants. All candidates also go through background checks before they’re placed in a classroom.

Thrive Preschool area manager Bethanne Rodriguez said she jumped at the chance to hire through the ECSC.

“To have somebody who has a wealth of life experience to bring to the classroom is huge,” Rodriguez said.

Van Meter had no education experience, but he’s raised children, grandchildren, and recently found out he will soon be a great-grandfather. He hopes to continue working with children as long as possible.

“The kids give you so much, I mean, they have so much energy themselves and so you get a little bit of residual from that,” he said.

The Early Childhood Service Corps is looking for candidates for its next cohort which will start in August. The applicationis open through June.

Preschools and child care facilities interested in hiring through the ECSC can applyto become a partner site.

Nonprofit recruits older adults to be preschool teachers

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.