Continuing their success in preparing Milford area children for elementary school, Morris Early Childhood Center has received the 2012 Academic Achievement Award from the State of Delaware. Joining 8 other Sussex County schools at Laurel High School earlier this month to receive the award, Morris became the first ever early childhood center to receive the award.
The award, which was created by legislation spearheaded by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2009, gives each recognized public school $50,000 for “significantly closing the achievement gap and/or exceeding their adequate yearly progress for two or more consecutive years.”
Principal of Morris Early Childhood Center Elizabeth Conaway contributes the success over the past several years to the constant involvement and individualized attention her teachers and staff give to their students on a daily basis. Principal of the Milford school that prepares children for Lulu Ross Elementary and Mispillion Elementary, Ms. Conaway takes the job of creating a strong foundation for their future educational career very seriously. Through the implementation of programs such as Individual Education Plans, Professional Learning Community time and Positive Behavior Support, the Morris school has been able to increase every student’s probability for success.
Morris Early Childhood Center has implemented the Individual Education Plan (IEP) to connect kids with the related services they need for success at the earliest age possible. Children who need help with learning or social skills can be enrolled in an extended pre-kindergarten curriculum to prepare them for kindergarten. Once students are at the level of kindergarten, the focus involves individualized instruction for math and writing. Students who are targeted to have difficulties learning these skills are enrolled in additional courses, that last 30 minutes, to ensure that they continue at the level their fellow classmates are.
“We differentiate instruction to challenge each student and use individualized intervention to provide students the skills they need to move forward,” commented Principal Conaway. “Each child is exposed to learning in a group setting and also treated as an individual in areas that they are having difficulties with.”
Before Morris students can graduate to the Mispillion or Lulu Ross Elementary Schools the expectation is that they should be able to read. To establish a school wide effort to ensure the success in the transition from kindergarden to elementary school Professional Learning Community (PLC) times have been implemented. During PLC time teachers collaborate about student performance, assessment measures and the curriculum. This allows students to receive more consistent learning in each classroom and throughout each grade level.
“These PLC times allow us to constantly reflect on what we are doing and how we can do it better,” commented Ms. Conaway. “We truly have a wonderful, committed staff. These teachers are so invested in their students and they will work with each student as long as it takes to help make sure they succeed.”
At such an early age of development it is just as important to teach students socialization skills as it is academic learning. Every classroom participates in the Positive Behavior Support program (PBS) which encourages students to learn their social ABC’s: A stands for act safely, B stands for be a friend and C stands for choose a manner. When students demonstrate positive behavior they receive awards that can be used to “purchase” rewards such as classroom parties.
“For many of our students, this is the first time that they experience socialization with others outside of their family,” commented Ms. Conaway. “We have a large spectrum of students from those that come to us already knowing how to read to those that do not know how to hold a pencil properly. We are taking the lead in preparing them for their future in education.”