Alumni honored for education methods

Shaina James

NMU alumni and early childhood educator Amy Ahola is being recognized by Microsoft’s Worldwide Education as one of the 365 Heroes in Global Education on www.dailyadventures.com this week.

Shortly after graduating in 2005, Ahola, originally from Houghton,  opened her business Child Central Station Family Home Daycare, located in Marquette.

The website will feature a different educator everyday for 365 days. These interviews will be written by Anthony Salcito, vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Education. Ahola’s interview will be featured Friday, Feb. 8.

Ahola said she was recognized because someone from the company found her blog, www.childcentralstation.com and kept coming back to it.

“They aren’t just looking at traditional classroom educators,” Ahola said. “They have research, college professors and high school teachers.”

Ahola said she is the only early childhood educator that has  been featured so far.

“I’m still floured,” Ahola said. “At first that they even found me. It’s an exciting thing for me, but I’m still having trouble processing it.”

According to Ahola, some of the things Microsoft’s Worldwide Education was looking for when recognizing educators was alternative ways of teaching. Ahola spends a lot of time with the children outdoors, including napping in tents and taking field trips.

“We have an outdoor classroom that is always evolving,” Ahola said. “We have a real mud pit, giant sand box, an outdoor music station, and a garden. The children helped with all of that.”

A lot of the equipment is made by Ahola and her husband and out of recycled materials.

“A lot of the time things are so expensive, so we did a lot of do it yourself things.”

Since Ahola runs a home-based childcare center she is allowed to care for 12 children at a time, even though more children are enrolled because many of them are not full time.

Along with running Child Central Station Family Home Daycare, Ahola participates in training and collaborates with a lot of people in the education field. Ahola and her daycare will also be featured in the new book “Get Over It, relearning guidance practices” by Dan Hodgins.

Ahola graduated from Northern in 2005 with a bachelors degree in Psychology and received two master level certificates in Facilitating Training and Performance Improvement in 2010.

Jim Suksi, one of Ahola’s former Psychology professors remembers her as an outstanding student.

“Her work was always excellent,” Suksi said. “She was a deep and critical thinker. As of a result of her success in the classroom, she could use it in her role as a trainer.”

Ahola is currently applying to graduate school to get her full masters degree. The certificates that she received were for taking classes that will count toward her masters degree. According to Suksi they are more like areas of specialization within a program.

“Her success in graduate studies provided a foundation that complimented her work and has helped her success. I am very proud of her.”