Meet Faculty and Program Coordinator: Jennifer Ganim-Smith
Many educators begin their teaching careers in early-childhood education and move on to teach older kids. Jennifer Ganim-Smith felt called to teach the youngest of children soon after her first experience in early childhood education and chose to stay rather than return to elementary school teaching.
In the latest stage of her professional journey, she is using her vast experience in varied school and child care settings to teach early childhood education to college students preparing to enter the field.
“I always knew I wanted to teach at the collegiate level,” said Ganim-Smith, who recently joined Great Bay Community College as Early Childhood Education program coordinator. “And I wanted to teach at Great Bay specifically because I immediately felt a sense of community here, and that was important to me. It’s a pathway for everybody and it’s affordable.”
A resourceful leader and strategic planner, Ganim-Smith has worked in a range of early education environments over her career. She has developed high-quality programming and curricula for state agencies, center-based care, family group care, Montessori, and public-school systems. Prior to joining Great Bay, Ganim-Smith worked as the training and marketing coordinator for Child Care Aware of New Hampshire, which is state affiliate to the national network of agencies and partners that helps ensure families have access to quality, affordable child care.
Great Bay offers a two-year associate in science degree and two certificates in early childhood education. Ganim-Smith is responsible for ensuring Great Bay’s programs stay up to date with state and federal initiatives and that Great Bay students are competent and confident in teaching the next generation of young children.
The biggest challenge facing the industry is a shortage of workers, which stems from the pay structure of the field. There are national, state, and local movements to support ECE concerns, as people are starting to understand the valuable role that early childhood educators play in the development of young children and the ability of their families to maintain their day-to-day routines.
“We have a staffing crisis. The pay for early childhood educators is not what it should be,” Ganim-Smith said. “But if anything good came out of Covid in our field, it was the realization that early childhood education is essential to our society. The concerns we have had for a long time are finally being heard.”
The other good news for early-childhood educators is that positions are plentiful. There are many opportunities for people who want to enter the field.
Ganim-Smith is passionate about Great Bay and her program. “We offer high quality education, affordability, small class sizes and the ability of students to get to know the professors. I know all of my students and they know me, and I like that,” she said.