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District 54 Early Learning Center receives Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition

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 an Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition.

A group photo of the ELC staffThis recognition is administered by the Early Childhood Least Restrictive Environment Stakeholders Consortium, Early CHOICES and the Illinois State Board of Education.

The District 54 ELC, which opened in 2014, currently serves 331 special education students ages 3 to 5 and 450 at-risk students ages 3 to 5. The recognition application highlighted 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 children’s learning. An assessor also visited the ELC to complete an Inclusive Classroom Profile to determine the Outstanding Practices in Inclusion.

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

For more information about District 54’s Early Childhood programs, visit elc.sd54.org/early-childhood-programs.

“This recognition demonstrates your program’s successful implementation of high-quality programming of inclusive practices for preschool age children,” Lynn Burgett, Early Childhood Division Supervisor for the Illinois State Board of Education, and Ann Kremer, Project Director for Early CHOICES, wrote in a letter to Mayernick announcing the award.

The District 54 Early Learning Center will be honored with the Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition at the Sharing a Vision Conference in October 2018.

The ELC received an Award of Excellence for Preschool Teaching and Learning from ExceleRate Illinois in 2017, and an Award of Excellence for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs from ExceleRate Illinois in 2016. Also in 2017, the District 54 Parent Educators won a Distinguished Service Award of Excellence in the Team category from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association. The Parent Educators serve as a resource to meet the needs of families in District 54 with children from birth through age 5, as well as expectant parents.