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Living Stories

Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education


Susan Bernheimer

In Living Stories: Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education, Susan Bernheimer takes the reader into her journey with a group of nontraditional college students. Bernheimer’s struggle to find a meaningful approach to teaching the students about early childhood development and care is infused with the insights and wisdom that come from listening to, and valuing, the remarkable stories of her students’ lives. This book offers a powerful new road map for early childhood teacher preparation through a relational pedagogy that honors students’ life experiences and that leads to deep reflection and learning. The approach is embedded in students’ strengths and knowledge and is successfully inclusive of an increasingly diverse student demographic. Bernheimer provides an inclusive model of education that builds upon the strengths of all students. 

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Chapter Four. Vision of Hope


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Chapter 4


Vision of Hope

The women’s pathways into a new life did not begin with a neat and tidy plan for the future. It more closely resembled the bloody and painful process of giving birth. For almost every woman the new direction occurred at a tumultuous but defining moment in her life. Although the turning-point experience appeared as one more hopeless event in a progressive downslide, inner strength and personal faith had been preparing them for this moment.

Rising From the Ashes

The turning point experience for each woman came from a crisis that embodied their worst fears. This defining moment for each brought with it the death of their current ways of dealing with their lives. The turning point event held a clear message that they needed to find a new approach to living. ← 53 | 54 →

Finding Hope and Courage

Irma spoke quietly into the tape recorder, giving a vivid description of horrific physical abuse from her boyfriend. There was a shift in her tone of voice. I recognized signs of her growing strength. Looking directly at me, Irma began telling about the last incident she encountered with the father of her four children. She had gone out with a friend to run an errand and accidentally locked herself and her four children out of their apartment. When her boyfriend got home and she wasn’t there, he locked them out....

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