The Houston Early Learning Center was recently awarded and recognized as a 5-Star preschool for meeting the quality standards established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). ODE’s Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) program is a five-tiered quality rating and improvement system created to recognize and promote early learning and development programs that meet quality standards over and above the health and safety licensing requirements. Participating programs earn a one, two, three, four or five-star rating by meeting Ohio’s quality program standards. HELC has consistently maintained a 5-Star rating since the State of Ohio started the SUTQ program.
Based on their findings, 86% of the students who attend HELC enter kindergarten “on track” as defined by the state of Ohio. This comes as no surprise given the number of well-educated and well-qualified teachers and staff members within the Center. HELC has 11 full-time teachers licensed by the State of Ohio, eight special education preschool interventionists, seven preschool educators with master’s degrees, three general education assistants, one early childhood education tutor and 12 special education assistants.
“Our teachers at Houston focus on the whole child. This includes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of the preschool student. We currently enroll 144 four-year-old students,” said Aimee Murray, HELC Principal. “We encourage our teachers to incorporate patience, consistency and a sense of humor to engage students in their daily lessons. Our educators integrate lessons and hands-on activities to guide students in connecting the academics with their many stages of development.” said Murray.
The learning experience for students within the program occurs inside and outside of the classroom, focusing on areas pertaining to early literacy, writing, math, technology, science and discovery, building and construction, dramatic play as well as art and gross motor activities. HELC curriculum lays a strong foundation for success in school and beyond. Students enjoy whole group, small group and individualized learning with their peers from highly qualified, certified teachers who have a bachelors and/or master’s degree in education/special education and many years of experience working with young children. Additionally, administrators, teachers and staff complete more than 15 hours of specialized training each school year.
This year, HELC students were able to utilize a new technology space and library. HELC’s new technology space boasts 25 new Chromebooks and access to the educational Starfall program for preschool students. Starfall’s activities and curricula align with a variety of state and national learning standards and its unique free-exploration model intuitively guides each child to find activities that fit his or her learning level. HELC’s new library embraces the importance of early literacy, giving students the opportunity to explore, read and share stories with classmates, teachers, staff, parents and families.
“I love that our new library and technology space allows for so many opportunities. Early learners can gravitate toward ABC and number activities that are engaging for them, more advanced students can dig deeper to follow the stories of their favorite characters or discover new levels of mathematical skills, while others can engage in technological exercises that support their overall digital skill development,” said Murray.