Prior Lake native earning ECYD degree while playing softball for Blue Knights
Hailey Schneller, 20, is earning her A.S. in Early Childhood & Youth Development at Dakota County Technical College. Hailey also plays NJCAA softball for the Blue Knights. She’s a sophomore outfielder and will be graduating from DCTC this May.
On top of her busy academic and athletics schedules, Hailey works 20 hours a week as a teacher’s assistant at Kids Count Daycare in Prior Lake, Minnesota. She loves her job and has previous experience working as a daycare assistant teacher and daycare aide at the Little Saints Early Childcare Center in Prior Lake and Anna’s Bananas Daycare and Preschool in Burnsville.
“I am looking forward to transferring to UW-Stout in the fall to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education,” Hailey said. “I’ve centered my career plans on becoming a kindergarten or first-grade teacher.”
Faculty and head coach perspectives:
Sharon Bergen and Tom Cross
“From her first week in the program, it has been clear that Hailey is a goal-driven student! She came to us with clear ideas about what she wanted from her career, and it has been a pleasure to help her reach those goals!
“One of Hailey’s ‘superpowers’ as a student is maintaining strong communication with her instructors. Hailey is quick to ask questions (which we love) and always keeps me ‘in the loop’ about what is going on with her as a student and as a person.
“This high level of interaction and communication really helps me to ensure that Hailey has what she needs to be successful, and it is fun to get to know a student well, too. I can honestly say I’ll miss having Hailey stop by the lab after she transitions on to UW Stout next year.
“Hailey is an active and engaged student in and out of the classroom. In class, I know I can count on her to dig into activities and even motivate others. Outside the classroom, she is part of the DCTC women’s softball team and also works with young children in an early childhood program. While all of this activity can be a time-management challenge for any student, Hailey does a good job making the most of these opportunities to help her reach her goals.”
Sharon Bergen, PhD
Early Childhood & Youth Development Faculty
DCTC Outstanding Educator of the Year 2023–2024
Dakota County Technical College
“Hailey has improved drastically from her freshman year till now! She is a good athlete who plays multiple positions. Her future is bright!”
Head Softball Coach
Assistant Director of Student Life
Dakota County Technical College
Hailey Schneller DCTC gallery
More about Hailey…
Originally from Prior Lake, Minnesota, Hailey graduated from Prior Lake High School, Class of 2022. She is certified in both CPR and First Aid.
Hailey comes from a large blended family. Her mom, Sarah, is an office manager and her stepdad, Chad, is a senior vice president of operations. Hailey has two half-brothers on this side of her family, Grayson, 13, and Jayden, 11, and one dog, a Boston terrier named Finn. She also has a pet chinchilla named Koko.
Her dad, Andy, is an iron worker and her stepmom, Teresa, is a mortgage underwriter. On this side of her family, Hailey has one half-brother, Braden, 17, and one half-sister, Taylor, 14, and a loving English springer spaniel named Lacey.
Hailey loves to travel. “When I was younger, my mom’s family and I always used to go camping,” she said. “We would try to go as many weekends as we could during the summer. For the past three years now, we have been going on a family trip during winter break, which is also our Christmas present.
“Last summer, my grandma and I had a girl’s road trip to South Dakota, and it was such an amazing experience. For the past three years, I have gone on a yearly summer trip up north with my dad’s family.”
Hailey loves hunting. “I started hunting for deer in 2019 and have gone every year since,” she said. “There is something so calming about sitting in dead silence while being all bundled up in the cold. Sadly, I have yet to shoot a deer, but I am still very determined! I hope to broaden my hunting experience someday and go waterfowl hunting.”
Hailey started fishing at a very young age. “My papa would always take me out on the boat or to a dock and teach me to fish,” she remembered. “My boyfriend, Brent, introduced me to bowfishing last summer, and I have also grown to like that!”
She also enjoys horseback riding. “I have had so much love for all animals,” she said. “I have always had a special place in my heart for horses. Horses are such big animals, yet so peaceful and elegant. I started riding in 2022 and even worked at a stable for a short period of time. Unfortunately, I do not own a horse, but I hope to in the future.”
If she could listen to music all day, every day, Hailey certainly would. “I love going to concerts and spending time with my friends,” she related. “Out of all the concerts I have been to, when I saw Zach Bryan last summer, it was my absolute favorite.”
Hailey resides in Jordan, Minnesota.
Hailey Schneller family and life gallery
One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:
Hailey Schneller • Q & A
What do you find most interesting about the Early Childhood & Youth Development program?
I love that my professor, Sharon Bergen, has had a lot of hands-on experience and worked as a childcare director before coming to DCTC to teach college students about what she loves. It makes such a huge difference having a professor who has worked in the field versus jumping straight into teaching.
What motivated you to pursue a career in the childcare field?
I am deeply passionate about my line of work. The best part of teaching, in my opinion, has to be watching children succeed in both academic and extracurricular areas. Although it can be difficult to watch a child struggle, it is incredibly satisfying to be able to support and assist them along their journey.
It’s little things like seeing that tiny lightbulb go on in their brain when they eventually understand. I get to help guide them through life’s obstacles and be there for them as a helping hand. My intention is to bring some ease and enjoyment to life and school. I admire that each day is different from the last.
Three words that describe you as a college student:
ORGANIZED. DETERMINED. COMMUNICATIVE.
How has TRIO/Student Support Services helped you achieve your academic goals?
During my academic path, TRIO and the tutors have been of great assistance to me. They are always so friendly and eager to work with me on any kind of endeavor, whether it’s requiring assistance with an assignment or laying out my schedule with me and relieving my stress.
What do you enjoy most about playing softball for the Blue Knights?
Meeting all of the strong, independent women I get to become friends with is my favorite part of playing softball for the Blue Knights. I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons from softball, and it has provided me with a lot of positive and healthy challenges.
What advice would you give students thinking about playing college sports?
I encourage you to try it! It turned out to be one of my best decisions. It engages you with the school as a whole, and I have met so many incredible people because of it. Participating in collegiate athletics also promotes academic accountability.
Three words that describe you as a college softball player:
FLEXIBLE. TEACHABLE. ATHLETIC.
What person has influenced your life the most and why?
If I had to choose one person out of all the people I know, I’d have to choose my grandma, Sue. She has always been so understanding of me and always has the best advice. She has been there for me every step of the way. She has been the number one person to help me walk strong in my faith. She is my source of wisdom, a confidante, and someone who will give it to me straight.
If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?
That the world would trust in God—he created a plan for us to grow, live by faith, and return to live with him someday.
Hailey in the news…
Hailey participated in TRIO/Student Support Services project designed to promote strong study habits.
Learn more by reading the DCTC News story, “TRIO/SSS Body Doubling Study Tables.”
Hailey Schneller • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: My favorite sport is softball!
- Place you would most like to visit: Fiji
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Visit Mexico
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Give a portion to my family/church 2) Pay for my schooling 3) Put the rest away for future needs
- Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: The best movie I’ve seen lately is Sound of Freedom
- Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: I don’t think I would choose to go anywhere; I choose to live life to the fullest in the present
- One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Having a beautiful and loving family who walks through Faith
- Your national bird if you were your own country: I would be a Flamingo: open-minded with a vibrant, fun, and expressive personality
- Dream occupation: Psychologist
- Person you would most like to meet: I don’t really have a specific person that I want to meet as of right now
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would most like to learn and master being a great cook; I am not particularly good at cooking right now and would love to improve in that skill
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Racism and civil conflict
Learn more about Early Childhood & Youth Development at DCTC by contacting:
Learn more about Blue Knights NJCAA softball at DCTC by contacting:
More about Early Childhood & Youth Development at DCTC…
The early childhood and youth development field provides a wide variety of career opportunities. According to Minnesota State CAREERwise, the employment outlook for preschool teachers in Minnesota is projected to grow 19.1 percent between 2020 and 2030, or very much higher than the statewide average for all careers.
Degree, diploma, and certificate options
This A.S. degree program prepares you for transfer to an early childhood teacher licensure program. You learn about child development, guidance, professional relationships, nutrition, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, and techniques for promoting learning in young children.
This program is available online and most courses are also available in the classroom. Courses meet Minnesota Department of Human Services educational requirements for teachers in a childcare setting.
This A.S. degree program delivers a broad scope of knowledge and skills necessary for working with or on behalf of children and families in a variety of non-teaching career fields such as human service agencies and services, home visiting, coaching, early childhood management, and child life.
You learn about child development, guidance, professional relationships, nutrition, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, and techniques for supporting children and families in a variety of settings, including therapeutic sites.
This program is available online and most courses are also available in the classroom. This degree is designed for you if you are seeking to transfer to a four-year institution to obtain an advanced degree. Courses meet Minnesota Department of Human Services educational requirements for teachers in a child care setting.
This A.A.S. degree program prepares you for employment in a variety of early childhood and youth settings. Students learn about child development, guidance, professional relationships, nutrition, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, and techniques for promoting learning in young children.
This program is available online and most courses are also available in the classroom. Courses meet Minnesota Department of Human Services educational requirements for teachers in a child care setting.
This diploma program prepares you to work in a childcare center or preschool as a lead teacher or in a family childcare program.
This certificate program prepares you to work in a childcare center or preschool as a teacher or in a family childcare program.
Early childhood and youth development professionals work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children/youth, and children with differing abilities in homes, schools, and community centers/agencies. Other career options include child advocacy and social service. Child life assistants may work in clinical and nonclinical settings with young children or youth who have special health needs.
Potential job titles
- Preschool Teacher
- Child Care Teacher
- Family Child Care Provider
- Social Service Agency Specialist
- School District Paraprofessional
- Child Life Assistant
- Head Start Teacher
- Home Visitor
- Program Director
Participation in any ECYD award program requires a clear Minnesota Criminal Background Study.
Elementary School Teachers
Teach school children in first through sixth grades.
This career that pays above the statewide median salary of $50,436.96 annually
Median: $64,362 annually
High: $80,541 annually
Seven-county Twin Cities metro
Median: $65,111 annually
High: $81,311 annually
In Minnesota, there are 23,330 workers employed in this very large career., which is currently in very high demand and seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in the state is 6.4 percent.
There will be a need for about 18,844 new Elementary School Teachers to meet market demand between 2020–2030. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
SOURCE: Minnesota State CAREERwise Education (January 23, 2024)
More about Blue Knights NJCAA softball at DCTC…
The Blue Knights play NJCAA Division II softball in Region 13. In 2023, the team took third place in the NJCAA Region 13 Championships.
Blue Knights softball is coached by Tom Cross. Home games are played at UMore Fields just south of the DCTC campus in Rosemount, Minnesota.
Learn more by visiting GoBlueKnights.com.
View Blue Knights softball game photos on DCTC Flickr: