Early Childhood Specialist

Early Childhood Specialist

Career Opportunities
Your career opportunities include working for childcare centers, public and private school early childhood programs, preschools, head start programs or private childcare centers. In addition, our graduates frequently open their own businesses. The region’s leading employers are seeking out our graduates!
Average Salary
The median annual wage for career opportunities for graduates of similar programs, according to the US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Award Types: AAS Degree
Total Credit Required to Graduate: 66 (AAS)

Do you love working with young children? Is it your dream to enjoy a casual career atmosphere? At Southeast Tech, get to where you want to be in just two years with an Early Childhood Specialist degree. Early Childhood professionals work with children in childcare centers, public and private school early childhood programs, preschools, Head Start programs or private childcare centers. You’ll develop skills in understanding and effectively working with the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of young children. Graduates can seamlessly build on their Southeast Tech degree with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Sioux Falls or a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Program Management from Bellevue University.

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This degree is a Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) program, meaning you can purchase a laptop on your own or from the Southeast Tech Support Center.



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Award Types: AAS Degree
Total Credit Required to Graduate: 66 (AAS)


Loretta LeLoux
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Loretta has taught several early childhood classes as an adjunct instructor over the course of the years. In addition to her experience teaching, she has been in the Early Childhood field for over 20 years and has served in a number of different leadership/management roles.  

Loretta has her master’s degree in Human Development Consumer & Family Sciences with an emphasis in Early Childhood and holds a teaching certificate for children birth-kindergarten age.
She has accrued extensive industry experience, having
• Managed a resource & referral program to assist families in locating quality child care services.
• Served as an Assistant Director/Program Director of two different local corporate sponsored Child Care Centers for over 13 years.
• Worked as an Operational Manager for the statewide AEYC organization.
• Consulted with the local early childhood enrichment program to write curriculum, organize systems and conduct training.
• Certified as a SD Infant & Toddler Trainer through California’s West/Ed curriculum.
• Taught child care workshops, conference workshops and CDA classes both locally and statewide.
• Directed a parent education program for the SF School District.

Loretta looks at networking opportunities as a professional avenue to grow and learn about current research and trends in early childhood. Loretta currently serves as the President of the local Siouxland Association for the Education of Young Children (SAEYC); as well as the Vice-President for the South Dakota AEYC.  Due to this connection, Loretta has on multiple occasions, educated other early childhood community members on the field of early childhood and its value to our society. She has also served on the SD Association of Child Care Directors (SDACCD) board locally and statewide.  She is truly dedicated to the field of early childhood and continues to collaborate with others to increase the community’s knowledge and best practices for early childhood. She hopes to encourage all students to join a professional organization.

She was honored with a service award from the SDAEYC organization for her contributions to young children and the Early Childhood Profession. Her continued commitment to the field is evident in how she personalizes education with real life situations and practical information. “I want all students to leave my classroom feeling like they have learned one little nugget of information that can be used in their day to day interactions with children, families or colleagues.”

Loretta also wants teaching to be about life lessons. Early childhood is relational based and because it is our foundation of learning, students will learn to professionally relate to others. Children need caring teachers in their lives that understand their needs developmentally, culturally and individually.  

Education: MS, South Dakota State University; BS, South Dakota State University





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