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Dr. Marilyn Toliver Hopes to Make the Early Childhood Education Program at JALC Available to More Students

Published on July 29, 2020

Dr. Marilyn Toliver has spent 28 of her 36 years in education at John A. Logan College.  She currently teaches 11 of the 14 classes offered in the Early Childhood Education Program.  According to Toliver, the field of Early Childhood Education has seen its challenges through the years, especially now as fewer schools offer the degree program.

“Before the COVID pandemic, the ECE program was already in crisis mode,” said Toliver. “Now more than ever, there are many students without access to early childhood education and training living in rural southern Illinois.

With Early Childhood Education programs recently closing at two other southern Illinois community colleges, Toliver decided to offer more online and hybrid classes to try and fill the void for students that would have to travel over an hour to take courses at the College.

“Time and distance are significant barriers for ECE students who may work and have children,” said Toliver. “This semester, students do not have to drive to campus at all for some courses and only a limited number of times for others.  We have also arranged for child care labs to be conducted at the workplace with cooperating centers.”

Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Stephanie Chaney Hartford, believes that offering the program online will bring more people into this critical field.

“Childcare is critical to southern Illinois parents, and we recognize the need to offer educational courses that prepare individuals to serve in this field,” said Hartford. “Our goal is to make our education accessible and affordable to those who want it. We believe that making our Early Childhood Education program fully online will accomplish this and allow for trained childcare workers to continue to serve our region.”

Despite the barriers, Toliver still sees Early Childhood Education as an excellent career choice with several employment options.

“Our graduates find jobs as teachers and directors in child care centers, assistant teachers at Pre-K and Headstart Centers as well as assistants elementary teachers in public schools and personal aids for children with disabilities,” said Toliver. “Some of my students choose to own and operate child care programs or work as Nannies. There are a lot of options and a lot of opportunities for our graduates.”

After 36 years, she still enjoys working with students and helping them achieve their goals.

“I grew up in Carbondale, the youngest of seven children.  I am the only one of my siblings to achieve a college degree, so I know first hand just how much this means to my students,” said Toliver.  “With fewer and fewer programs now being offered, I am both excited and proud that we (John A. Logan College) have made the changes necessary to provide this vital program to more individuals.” For more information about the Early Childhood Education program at John A. Logan College, contact Dr. Marilyn Toliver at 618-985-2828, Ext. 8468 or at

Marilyn Toliver