Durham Tech Early Childhood program adds new fast-track option

PNC Foundation awards the college $17,500 to help provide stipends to students in the new pathway.

(Durham, NC) – Students will now be able to earn their early childhood education associate’s degree in less time through a new fast-track pathway at Durham Technical Community College.

While in the pilot program, students will also receive stipends thanks to a $17,500 grant from the PNC Foundation.

An associate’s degree typically takes two years to earn. Students in the fast-track pathway will have the same course load as traditional associate’s degree students but will earn their degrees in less time.

The first class of the new pathway will begin in January. Registration is now open.

The fast-track option is being implemented to meet the increase in local demand for pre-K teachers and related professions, said Cathy Collie-Robinson, Director of the Early Childhood Education program.

“We are experiencing both an increasing demand for well-qualified teachers and an increasing teacher shortage,” she said. “We are hopeful with this grant that new students will choose early childhood education and that faster, more successful completion of the associate’s degree will be ensured.”

Students will receive stipends beginning in fall 2020 to financially support them at a living hourly wage while they are in the unpaid practicum, which lasts 144 hours, said Melissa Chappell, Executive Director of the Durham Tech Foundation.

“With the support of PNC, Durham Tech aims to address the projected shortfall of degree-holding child care workers qualified to work at pre-K sites,” Chappell said. “This fast-track pilot project will allow us to test a new model for helping students finish their course work faster.”

The students in the fast-track pathway will be able to choose between the program’s transfer associate’s degree or a non-transfer associate’s degree, which consists of fewer credit hours.

“PNC believes in the power of early childhood education to change lives,” said Jim Hansen, PNC Regional President for Eastern Carolinas. “Teachers are integral to a quality pre-K program, and that’s why we support this innovative initiative.”

Students in all Early Childhood Education associate’s degree pathways earn certificates in Infant and Toddler Care and in Child Development during the course of their studies. The program also offers an Administration Certificate.

For more on Durham Tech Early Childhood Education program, visit

PNC Foundation The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

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