The Pandemic has brought about a new normal for educating our little scholars. The early learning experience has been wrought with social distancing, faces covered by masks, regular sanitizing, limited in-school and out of school events, limited classroom visits by parents, virtual learning and a myriad other strategies and protocols to combat the virus. The dedicated and dynamic staff here at Mary Ford Early Learning & Family Center have had to be creative in order to circumvent some of the inherent issues and challenges presented by this unprecedented environment. In spite of COVID, we have continued our vision to be a high-quality, full service program determined to prepare the strong foundation needed to access world class skills as warranted by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
Some of our notable offerings include: data-based professional development for staff such as OGAP (On-Going Assessment) Math; EL Curriculum implementation for Kindergarten; Conscience Discipline Social/Emotional framework and NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation prep.
We have had phenomenal parenting/community events that have garnered impressive increases in parent and community participation. Events included Wellness Wednesdays with weekly visits from the Fetter Healthcare Mobile Unit here on campus; regular fruits/vegetables distributions; Adult Education offerings and collaborations; and a Parent/Child Interaction Therapy room with on-site, trained therapists.
COVID-friendly in-house field experiences have included weekly visits by The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) lessons and activities as well as weekly visits by Stretch N Grow to support gross motor movement, exercise and health. Community partner Charleston Promise Neighborhood consistently supports our after-school and summer enrichment programs.
Most of our challenges have been associated with the COVID environment including enforcing the mask mandate and social distancing with early learners; providing viable instruction virtually; rolling classroom closures; drop in attendance rate; and consistency with supporting traumatized students with social/emotional concerns.
In spite of all -- And Still We Rise!
Ruth Taylor, Principal
James (Jim) Fry, School Improvement Chair