Graduates of CNM: Leslie Winckel

Leslie graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and has dedicated herself to supporting both children and parents in her local community
August 03, 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie Winckel says she had several parents come to her with a new-found appreciation for her job. Leslie is an early childhood educator at the Alamosa Child Development Center and the parents were praising her because the pandemic had forced them to educate their small kids at home. 

“These parents were home, but they weren’t really prepared,” she says. “They reached out to us for help and we were happy to send over activity plans or anything else they needed.”

Leslie is not one to toot her own horn, but she says the pandemic definitely helped the larger community understand the important role of early childhood educators.

“Early childhood education isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of work and dedication and is really only for those people who have their heart and soul in the profession,” she says.

Leslie didn’t start in early childhood education. In fact, she spent most of her early career traveling for a logistics job. But then she had kids, volunteered at her daughter’s daycare class, and fell in love with the field. 

She started in a public school as a teacher’s assistant, then worked at the Jewish Community Center, and eventually opened her own home, state-certified daycare center in 2006. When her kids got a little bigger, Leslie applied for an early childhood education job with the City of Albuquerque. 

She landed at the Los Volcanes Child Development Center where she worked with 4- and 5-year-olds. At Los Volcanes, she also learned about CNM’s Early Childhood Multicultural Education program and was told she could attend for free thanks to a grant from the state of New Mexico. 

Leslie enrolled and took one class each term while also working full time. She found the program not only helpful but also caring about its students.

“The Early Childhood department really caters to all different walks of life,” she says. “There were young students just starting out and people like me who were already 40. They were flexible if people had to care for sick kids and obviously really cared about their students.”  

Leslie earned her associate degree in 2020 and found her way to the Alamosa center where she runs her own classroom. She’s also a mentor in the Early Childhood Mentor Network where she helps prepare early childhood students as well as recent graduates. 

Down the road, Leslie is thinking about moving over to the college side of early childhood education. She’d like to be a college advisor for these incoming students so she can help motivate and guide them through their degrees.

“The people who are just starting out need to be reminded of how important this field truly is,” she says. “There is a tremendous need for qualified teachers. We need these incoming students to be inspired and I want to be a part of their journey.” 

Learn more about the Early Childhood Multicultural Education program here.