Bay Mills Trains Head Start Workers Online

Feb 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 12-3: How to Build a Dream, Tribal College News

Three years Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) decided to start offering courses online. Now, the tribal college on the far shore of the Michigan Upper Peninsula has students in Alaska, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Oregon, and Washington. The “virtual college” was started by two people, Dr. Helen Scheirbeck, former chief of the American Indian Programs Branch in the Administration for Families and Children, and Tom Davis.

A federal requirement mandated that at least 50 percent of all Head Start staff members must have an associate degree by the year 2003. Because of the remoteness of some of the Native American Head Start centers, Scheirbeck was concerned that staff would be unable to meet this requirement. Davis, who had worked for many years in education and with the Internet, suggested offering an associate degree online. If the centers had Internet access, the staff would be able to complete their courses online and earn their degree.

A tribal college was needed to deliver an accredited degree online. Bay Mills Community College President Dr. Martha McLeod agreed with Scheirbeck and Davis that the time had arrived. BMCC hired Davis as the asynchronous learning director and with funding from Region 11 Indian Head Start, the virtual college became a reality.

Online students now can complete their training for Child Development Associate (CDA) certification or go on to complete an A.A. degree in early childhood education, according to Program Coordinator Sherry Bertram. The associate of arts degree has two emphasis areas: The administration area is for students working or desiring to work in Head Start administration. The Early Childhood Development area is for students working as teachers in Head Start or daycare settings. All of the instructors keep in touch with the students via email and/or phone. Registration is online at the website, <>. Students have 15 weeks from their official start date (when password is received) to complete the course. (For more information, see TCJ, Vol. XI, N. 4, p. 30 and TCJ, Vol. X, N.3.)

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