Early Learning Success Through Partnerships
Partnership is one of MPCSD’s core values because we know that by tapping into the strengths of our broader community, we can amplify success for everyone. The creation of our newest program, the Early Learning Center (ELC) preschool housed on Laurel’s Lower Campus and Oak Knoll School, has offered the opportunity to partner with leaders in early learning around the country.
Right now, the ELC is in the early stages of piloting an early learning curriculum from the Sesame Workshop in New York City. When Sesame approached our preschool to work with the curriculum and offer feedback on how it fits into a public school-based, mixed-income environment, ELC Director Jessica Mihaly was happy to agree. The Sesame curriculum is inquiry-based and focused on social emotional learning and literacy and fits well within the ELC’s project based learning model. The ELC uses a whole child approach, incorporating math, science, reading, writing, art, mindfulness, and outdoor play into several projects per year in each classroom. Ms. Mihaly was excited to pilot the Sesame curriculum because it offers a consistent framework to use across all four classrooms and compliments the professional development and staff support already built into the ELC program. The ELC will help inform Sesame’s development of their curriculum, making it the best it can be for young learners before it becomes a free online resource. Ms. Mihaly feels this is a win-win partnership as our young students have early access to a well designed curriculum that enhances the whole child learning already in place at the ELC, and Sesame Workshop will be able to offer an improved curriculum for free to preschools around the country who want to provide the best possible program for children in a variety of environments.
Locally, the Preschool Pipeline, part of Community Equity Collaborative, has been another successful partnership. The Pipeline offers credit-bearing college courses in early childhood education to prospective preschool teachers, along with childcare, meals, and convenient locations so that working parents with children can participate. Superintendent Burmeister observes, “Some of the best teachers are right in our community and just need support to get the training they need. We are thrilled to already have hired Preschool Pipeline graduates at the ELC who are making a difference in the lives of our students, and contributing to the high quality of learning throughout our preschool program.” The ELC’s connection with the Community Equity Collaborative goes back years as Dayna Chung, one of CEC’s organizing members, was an advisor on the initial team that helped lay the groundwork for the ELC and its curriculum. MPCSD’s values of partnership and equity are reflected in the Pipeline’s mission to create a new generation of knowledgeable, skillful and diverse early childhood educators prepared to work as teachers in the MPCSD’s Early Learning Center and other community preschool programs.