Early learning academy opens in Wilmington

 Students in EastSide Charter's Pre-K program get creative with Play- Doh. (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

Students in EastSide Charter's Pre-K program get creative with Play- Doh. (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

Delaware officials cut the ribbon on a new early childhood education program in Wilmington.

EastSide Charter officially opened the doors to a new pre-kindergarten building, called the EastSide Early Learning Academy, on Tuesday.

“We are not a daycare, said Dr. Lamont Brown, Principal of EastSide Charter. “Yes, we have 4 year olds, we actually have some 3 year olds but we are not a daycare. And we are not just a Pre-K center. We are a true early learning academy.”

The pre-k program, which will serve approximately 66 students, was established to provide early learning opportunities to students who will likely move up through EastSide’s K-8 grade classes.

By providing pre-k through 8th grade education, Dr.Brown said they’re able to align teachers in all grade levels with the same goals and expectations.

EastSide teachers from different grade levels share education strategies and curriculum planning so students are more prepared to move into a higher grade level.

Rachel Staab, director of early learning for EastSide, said one of their main goals is to make sure students are enjoying their learning experience.

“Lower socioeconomic areas are fighting the achievement gap,” Staab explained. “And because they’re fighting the gap, there’s no time for songs, there’s no time for games, there’s no time for crafts, there’s no time for signing, there’s no time for fun. You have to sit at your desk and close the gap. Not at EastSide.”

The majority of EastSide students come from low-income households, in a high-poverty neighborhood.

Gov. Jack Markell, who has made a conscious effort to help the state double the number of low-income kids in Delaware who are enrolled in high quality early learning programs, was on hand for the grand opening.

“The early childhood piece is so important,” Markell said. “Anytime where your heart and your head can intersect, that’s probably a pretty good thing. And there’s a lot of research out there, Federal Reserve Bank in Minnesota being one, that says the most effective economic development investment that a state can make is in early childhood education.”

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