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District 54 Early Learning Center recognized for excellence

Two preschool students building a towerThe District 54 Early Learning Center is a place where every student’s progress is encouraged and celebrated and every child has a champion. For its supportive, dedicated approach to educating the district’s youngest learners, the ELC has received a 2019 Gold Circle of Quality from the Illinois State Board of Education.

The District 54 ELC currently serves approximately 600 students ages 3 to 5, including special education and at-risk students.

“It is so important that students see school as a fun, safe place to come and learn, especially at this foundational level,” ELC Principal Julie Gorvett said. “The staff here is very passionate about their work with students. They always keep what is best for students at the forefront of everything they do. We truly are better together because we all support one another in meeting students’ needs.”

Research consistently demonstrates that a high quality early childhood education results in a narrowing of the achievement gap, increased brain development, lower retention rates and special education placements, and an increased development of both academic and social skill acquisition for children.

“Achieving this designation demonstrates your school’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education to children in your district,” Toni Porter, Professional Development Director for ExceleRate Illinois which administers the recognition, wrote in a letter announcing the award.

Gold Circle programs have met the highest standards for quality in three areas:  learning environment and teaching, administration, and training and education. Gold Circle programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.

National Louis University has a contract with the Illinois State Board of Education to monitor all public school-based early childhood education programs receiving funding through the Preschool for All and Preschool for All Expansion portions of the Early Childhood Block Grant. ExceleRate Illinois gives each program a designation of Gold, Silver or Bronze based on the information collected.

The District 54 Early Learning Center has a history of winning awards since its opening in 2014.

  • The ELC received an Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition from the Early Childhood Least Restrictive Environment Stakeholders Consortium, Early CHOICES and the Illinois State Board of Education in 2018.
  • The ELC received an Award of Excellence for Preschool Teaching and Learning from ExceleRate Illinois in 2017.
  • Parent Educators from the ELC won a Distinguished Service Award of Excellence in the Team category from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association in 2017. 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.
  • The ELC received an Award of Excellence for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs from ExceleRate Illinois in 2016.

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