The leadership at Morris Early Childhood Development Center in Lincoln welcomed Jon Lobiondo this year as their new Assistant Principal. With 16 years of teaching experience in Delaware, Jon has used his expertise to add to the proactive approach by Principal Elizabeth Conaway of preparing children for Milford elementary schools. As a feeder school to Lulu Ross Elementary, Mispillion Elementary and Banneker Benjamin Elementary, Morris Early Childhood’s first priority is ensuring that their 406 students enter the next level of the public school system with a solid foundation of learning.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education from Lock Haven University and Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction form Coppin State University, Jon started his career in 1997 in the Seaford School District teaching Health and Life Skills. Three years later he started at Milford where he would spend the next 13 years at Milford Middle, Banneker Benjamin and Lulu Ross Elementary schools teaching Physical Education. In November he was hired as Assistant Principal at Morris Early Childhood Development Center.
“There is a thrill about teaching children at this young of age,” commented Mr. Lobiondo. “Seeing people do things for the first time that they have never done before is amazing to watch. They see that they can succeed.”
Since Morris Early Childhood Development Center is for many people the first interaction their child and their family have with the Milford School District, Jon believes that this age group is most critical to the success of the entire district. Imparting the lessons he taught in the gymnasium in years past, he believes that the ability to make these young students feel comfortable and safe in their new environment is just as important as any instruction.
“The kids that we see here come from so many different backgrounds and begin at varying levels of understanding,” commented Jon. “It is our job to help them feel comfortable with learning and built a sense of enjoyment as they learn. Our teachers are attending to them constantly to meet the specific needs of each child.”
To help with this unique situation, Morris Early Childhood Center has implemented the individual education plan (IEP) for children at the earliest age possible. Children who need help with learning or social skills can be enrolled in an extended prekindergarten curriculum. At the level of kindergarten and above, the focus involves 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. Morris Early Childhood has also begun to reach out to local daycare providers to share what information children will need to be prepared for school.
“Building that foundation for success is most important for us,” stated Mr. Lobiondo. “Numerous studies have shown that graduation, dropout and incarceration rates can be easily related to the early years of education. If they do not get the start they need then life is against them.”
Jon admits that the biggest challenge for the teachers at Morris is trying to broaden the healthy behaviors children learn in the classroom to include their home life. Unfortunately, some students face very harsh realities at home that affect their progress once in school. Mr. Lobiondo is confident that as the teachers and staff continue to increase their community outreach these problems can become more visible and dealt with.
“It is difficult to know what some of these kids go through at home,” commented Jon. “It reminds you of what you are really doing and why you are doing it.”