Education

State College Kiwanis effort aims to boost early childhood education

When it comes to early childhood education, the State College Kiwanis Club is all about supporting the effort.

It’s something the local branch has done for at least 12 years by creating grants that go toward preschool and day care centers looking to improve services, former president and current Kiwanis member Kathryn Mackes said.

Our goal is to get as much of the populous into early education as possible, especially in poverty levels because they don’t have as many opportunities.

Kathryn Mackes, former president and current Kiwanis member

“Our goal is to get as much of the populous into early education as possible, especially in poverty levels because they don’t have as many opportunities,” Mackes said.

Rising Star initiative has $4,000 budget

This year, through a new initiative called Rising Stars, the Kiwanis Club was able to raise $4,000 to help support local preschools eligible for the funds, and to help them achieve a star in the Keystone Stars accreditation.

Keystone STARS — Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources and Support — is a four-step initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to “improve, support and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania,” the organization’s website said.

The grants are going to Childspace and Kid’s Court, Mackes said.

Mackes wasn’t specific, but said a committee determined one center would receive $3,000 and the other would get $1,000.

And on Monday night, the preschool and child day care centers will be honored during a banquet at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center.

The Kiwanis Club will also recognize 22 other preschools in the area with grants through the club’s other campaigns.

“There was an application process, so we had to list a little bit about our facility, and name unique qualities of our facility, and includes a description of items we hope to get,” said Kid’s Court Director Jill Fallon. “Any little bit helps, especially when some things are so pricey.”

Kid’s Court has two locations in Centre County with an enrollment of about 115, Fallon said.

Fallon said she hopes to put some of that grant money toward the cost of new mats for the students.

“We’ve requested these mats for preschool — we have two preschool rooms and one toddler room (in the State College building),” Fallon said. “Kids pick at them, and we have to order new mats from a specific day care magazine that meet certain requirements. It’s always helpful to get extra money that can go to this sort of thing.”

The facility needs 20 mats at $34 apiece.

“It seems simple, but it’s something we need,” Fallon said.

The facility offers preschool and day care to infants through 5 years old from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that include age-based “daily curriculum and weekly lesson plans,” Fallon said.

I feel like early education is important because it sets a foundation for kindergarten and elementary years, and teaches them some of those skills to be successful.

Jill Fallon, Kid’s Court director

“I feel like early education is important because it sets a foundation for kindergarten and elementary years, and teaches them some of those skills to be successful,” Fallon said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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