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District 54 Early Learning Center receives second Award of Excellence

The motto of School District 54’s Early Learning Center is “creating superheroes one child at a time.” The ELC’s dedicated, innovative approach to educating the district’s youngest learners recently earned the program its second Award of Excellence from ExceleRate Illinois.

This year the ELC received the Award of Excellence for Preschool Teaching and Learning. Last spring the ELC received the Award of Excellence for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs.

The District 54 ELC, which opened in 2014, currently serves 300 special education students ages 3 to 5 and 440 at-risk students ages 3 to 5. The extensive portfolio that ELC Principal Sue Mayernick submitted to ExceleRate Illinois discusses various aspects of District 54’s Early Childhood program that help to ensure student success. This includes hiring and training highly qualified and dedicated staff; creating nurturing, engaging classrooms and other learning spaces that encourage child-directed learning and play; scheduling time for staff to meet weekly in Professional Learning Communities to collaboratively plan and prepare lessons; and providing ongoing opportunities for parents to be active participants in their child’s learning.

“We are so very proud of our staff and the work we do together with District 54, our parents, and community to support our youngest learners,” Mayernick said.

For more information about District 54’s Early Childhood programs, visit

“This Award of Excellence demonstrates your program’s successful implementation of high-quality programming for preschool age children,” Cynthia Tate, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development wrote in a letter to Mayernick announcing the award.

ExceleRate Illinois is administered through the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) under the joint direction of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois State Board of Education.