The University of Vermont’s College of Education and Social Services (CESS) and the Greater Burlington YMCA (GBYMCA) are forming a new partnership to advance high-quality early childhood education in Vermont. The partnership aims to reimagine and innovate the field experience of future early childhood educators, better preparing them to address the needs of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.

“Our investments in early education and in one another are investments in children’s health and well-being, thriving communities, human rights and social justice,” said Barbara Burrington, Director of Field Site Coordination for UVM’s Department of Education. “This blossoming partnership provides an exciting opportunity to strengthen the workforce and the quality of early care and education.”

GBYMCA and UVM will spend the next year working in unison on the following priorities: organization of a community-based laboratory school; providing professional development for YMCA teachers as they begin mentoring preservice teachers; aligning the philosophy and practices of the two programs; and building an amiable and professional partnership that serves the newly merged communities.

“I am excited to share the news that the Greater Burlington YMCA will serve as a training site for students in UVM's Early Childhood Education program,” wrote Director of Early Childhood Programs Danielle Harris in an email to GBYMCA families. “We are thrilled for this partnership and for teachers in our classrooms to mentor UVM students.”

Harris noted the many challenges that early childcare faces in Vermont and across the nation, not the least of which is the availability of trained, high-quality early educators. “We are not only honored to partner with UVM, but also feel a sense of pride and commitment to support the next generation of teachers. They have chosen a demanding yet rewarding profession and I am confident our program will provide a positive educational experience. Our highly qualified teachers are anxious to embrace the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on these UVM students as they begin their journey to become teachers.”

In February, UVM Early Childhood Education students will begin field work at GBYMCA. UVM and GBYMCA will continue their strict and vigilant efforts to provide a safe environment during the pandemic. This includes structured COVID protocols to best ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone in the community.

“Our partnership with the Greater Burlington YMCA is another important step toward our goal of expanding high-quality field placements for our students while supporting early learning across Vermont’s diverse communities,” said Dr. Scott Thomas, Dean of the College of Education and Social Services. “We have been carefully building toward this, and I am confident it will be a model for future partnerships bringing great benefit to the College, and the schools, families, and communities we strive to serve.”

UVM's College of Education and Social Services (CESS) strives to promote a more humane and just society, maximizing human potential and the quality of life for all individuals, families and communities. The CESS mission is to educate and prepare outstanding professionals in education, social work, and human services; engage in policy relevant scholarship of highest quality; and provide exemplary professional service within the state of Vermont, nationally, and globally. CESS faculty and alumni play leading roles in transformative teaching, research, policy development and service - locally, nationally and globally.

The Greater Burlington YMCA has a mission to build a strong community by involving youth, adults, and families in programs and activities that develop spirit, mind, and body. This impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a teacher inspires a child, and when a community comes together for the common good.


Doug Gilman