Early Learning Center goes above and beyond, remotely

Special programs online for client families at home make a world of difference for busy faculty and staff parents

March 31, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Creative efforts beyond the call of duty from employees of the Saint Michael’s College Early Learning Center (ELC) brought praise and appreciation this week from St. Mike’s employees who seek daily to productively occupy their young children at home even while trying to continue their own work for the College online.

Mike and Patrick

Mike Stefanowicz, Saint Michael’s director of admission, and his son Patrick do online activities from home through the Early Learning Center where Patrick normally would spend part of his day. (photo courtesy of Nicole Stefanowicz)

Two examples are the families of Michael Stefanowicz ‘09, director of Admission, and Lara Scott, director of Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE), the service arm of Edmundite Campus Ministry.  Said Scott, “I feel very thankful for the teachers at the ELC who have been working really hard to find new avenues to allow the children to connect, learn, and continue to grow. “

She shared the example of “Cindy Beaudoin-Valyou and Hannah Cruichshank in the Rainbow Preschool classroom [who] created a Facebook page where they are posting all kinds of educational and fun activities for children to do to – Monday was Math Monday and today is Literacy Tuesday.

Lara Scott

“They are reading books to children at 12:30 p.m. every day (their regular story time). We are very lucky to have them. Their commitment to children and learning is incredible!” said Scott, noting that Cindy also is the parent of an alumna.

Stefanowicz and his wife, Nicole ’09, have had similar experience with his two-year-old son, Patrick, who in normal times at the ELC is in the “Moonbeam” classroom with Julie Mount (parent of a St. Mike’s first-year student) and Elena Bourne, who also did some studies at the College.

“Patrick has been home for the last two and a half weeks as we all follow COVID-19 guidelines,” said Mike, “and I am so impressed with Julie, Elena, and all of the teachers who have found creative ways to maintain connections with the kids by hosting virtual playdates on Zoom, sending creative activities, and making themselves available to chat.  It’s clear how much they love and miss the children and they have made a tremendous effort to support families from a distance.”

He also made special mention of Saint Michael’s students who normally work at the ELC: “The Early Learning Center also employs a group of student workers who Patrick has made such wonderful connections with, including seniors Kayla Carew and Rachel High.  We miss them a lot as they engage in remote learning.”

Stefanowicz says from his standpoint, The Early Learning Center “is one of the best employee benefits at Saint Michael’s College. The ELC teachers have played a pivotal role creating community and supporting faculty and staff for decades. It’s amazing when you speak with longtime staff members just how many of them have benefited from the Early Learning Center.  It speaks to the family-friendly work environment we all value at Saint Michael’s College.”

The other ELC service that Scott said she appreciates given the ages of her children is “the baby space where Sue Hathaway (parent of alumna) and Alicia Mennig are setting up Google hangout Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. for the children to connect and see one another. They are babies (about 1 year and younger) so this is a perfect way to help them maintain relationships and work on things like facial recognition, etc. Again, beautiful dedication to their work and to children.” Sue Treadwell, also parent of a current student, is director of the ELC.

“My family feels very lucky to have such incredible educators teaching our children!” said Scott. Partly inspired by these ELC helpers and the difference it has made in her life in pandemic isolation, Scott is looking at ways MOVE volunteers might do more as tutors or mentors online to teach and entertain the older age-bracket children of employees who need to work at home in coming weeks and months.




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