Childcare center is Fayette’s best kept secret

Tue, 07/31/2007 - 3:42pm
By: Heather Ward

Not many people can say they attended high school at the tender age of two, but some Fayette students will be able to say they did just that.

About 20 children aged 2-5 years old are expected to enroll at Starr’s Mill High School’s Child Development Center for the fall semester. The center is one of Fayette County’s best-kept secrets, providing one-on-one instruction for preschoolers in all areas of development and social interaction. It holds national accreditation from the National Association of the Education of Young Children.

The purpose of the center is twofold: to prepare early childhood education students for advanced degrees in education or for employment immediately after graduation and to provide an exceptional preschool program for the community.

Starr’s Mill students must complete a one-year introductory course covering childhood development, guidance and health and sanitation before they can work in the center. The experience gives the high school students an opportunity to practice what they learn in class and gain experience developing lesson plans.

Hope Via, the director of the center and a technical and career teacher at Starr’s Mill, says the program is providing a valuable educational experience for both the younger and older students.

“Many kids think that because they like babysitting they will also enjoy working in a classroom, but working with one or two children is a lot different from being responsible for 20. The center gives students a chance to experience working in a classroom setting, showing them that they have to teach as well as have fun with the children,” says Via.

Not all students in the program are planning on a teaching career. Katie Kearney is using the program to prepare her for a career in pediatrics. She decided to participate in the childhood development program to gain experience working with younger children.

“I like spending time with kids and watching them learn and grow. When you first get the kids they don’t know how to spell their names or do anything. By the end of the year they are writing their names, reading, counting and adding numbers. It’s great seeing how far they come in just a year,” she says.

As for the preschoolers, Via says they receive constant attention. If they want to read, play a game or draw pictures, there is someone available who can do those activities with them. Via, or another certified teacher, is always in the center supervising the interaction between students.

Hundreds of parents have taken advantage of the center since the opening of Starr’s Mill High in 1997. The center doesn’t advertise, parents usually learn about it by word of mouth.

Any Fayette County resident can enroll a preschooler in the program who is between 2-5 years old and has been potty trained. The center operates during the school year and is closed on school holidays. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Thursday from 8:40-11:30 a.m. The center opens two weeks after the semester begins and closes one week before exams. Tuition is $150 per semester.

For more information, contact Starr’s Mill High,770-486-2710.

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