When Selma resident Patricia Ward was growing up, like most young girls, she enjoyed playing school. “I always liked to be the teacher with my younger siblings and cousins,” she recalled. That early childhood interest, along with the inspiration of her late maternal grandmother, has led Ward to a lifelong commitment to education. “My grandmother worked with children years ago in migrant camps. She continued her career by opening up her own in-home daycare. I guess it has always been in my blood to teach children.”
In 2008 Ward began taking classes at University of Mount Olive through Johnston Community College. She completed her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in 2010.
“I have become a better teacher because of MOC,” she said. “I learned classroom management skills, business skills, and the most effective teaching methods in the classroom. Since earning my degree I am able to understand children more, and it is easier to relate to them.”
Since graduating everything Ward has done has been leading up to the point where she could open her own childcare facility. Her first early childhood job was actually at the center she now owns - Shining Stars. She also worked at Temple Baptist Learning Center in Selma as the assistant director and the pre-school teacher and as the Jr. K teacher at The Growing Years in Clayton. Now, all of Ward’s hard work, training and education has finally paid off. On August 26, she opened Shining Stars Childcare Learning Center located at 609 North Webb St. in Selma, NC.
A mother herself, Ward recognized the need for quality childcare in her hometown. “The area that I live in has a great need for high quality, dependable, and affordable childcare. So I decided to offer services that will benefit everyone,” she said.
Shining Star can accommodate 51 children on each shift. It has first, second and third shifts, Monday thru Saturday. The Center accepts children from six weeks to 12 years old, and Ward has hired eight state qualified individuals for her staff. “My ultimate goal is to provide the most beneficial care for children. I want to be able to help individuals from all types of families and situations.”
Married and a mother of four, Ward doesn’t plan to sit back and be content with her current success. She believes in education and plans to be a life-long learner. The 33-year-old is already looking at pursuing her master’s degree and then her doctorate. “The educational program at University of Mount Olive has shown me the positive ways to strengthen my teaching and parenting skills. I am always eager to learn. I feel as though you can never learn enough. It is our job as educators to ensure we have the appropriate knowledge of how a child grows and learn. This will ensure they have the most effective and beneficial learning experience. The early years are the most important ones.”
Down the road Ward plans to establish childcare centers all over North Carolina. “If I think big…..I feel as though I will continue to grow and meet all my goals.”
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.