GCC and Peoria Unified School District launch new early childhood center

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The Early Childhood Education Program at Glendale Community College collaborated with Peoria Unified School District to launch a new Early Childhood Center on GCC’s main campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, to launch the new program and pathway for students.

Dr. Debbie Pischke, the Director of the Peoria ECCEL Preschool Program, shared excitement to see this collaborative program launch.

“There was a tremendous turnout. We had the superintendent and deputy superintendent of Peoria School District, the Chancellor and President of Maricopa Community Colleges and Glendale City Councilman Ray Malnar along with members of both school boards. There were probably about 100 people in attendance,” Dr. Pischke said.

Early childhood education faculty shared where the idea for the collaboration came from.

“Glendale Community College reached out to the District. Head Start was previously running the learning lab but was not able to find sufficient enrollment due to the income qualification levels. As a district, we can charge tuition for families who don’t meet the income guidelines. We began meeting in August 2018. We had to involve financial, legal, DHS Child Care licensing, Food Service, Department of Economic Security, etc,” said Judy Basham, Early Childhood Education Program Director at Glendale Community College.

This partnership will allow GCC students the chance to shadow and work in classes under the supervision of an accredited teacher. Allowing students to get in-depth knowledge and experience in a quality early childhood program. The district will also have an opportunity to hire exceptional employees in the program upon graduation. The program is held in the Northwest part of campus in the technology one building.

The setting is a lab school, which means there are microphones and cameras for educational reasons. The classroom will also include a two-way window so pupils can observe real-time instruction.

“As long as a child is 18 months and walking for the toddler program or three [years old] for the preschool program they can enroll. There are income guidelines for families to qualify for DES. Enrollment priority is given to GCC students. Currently, two toddlers enrolled and eight or nine preschoolers. It often takes a year for new programs to fill to capacity,’’ Dr. Pischke, the Director of the Peoria ECCEL Preschool Program said.

“The program is open. We are looking to at serving more children! Full time or part-time 5 days a week,” Basham said.

Peoria Unified School district is located in the Northwest Valley of Peoria, Arizona. This new chapter will give students a head start when attaining their degrees. Implementing this program also gives students a sense of direction. It will give students, teachers and children a chance to learn together in a new environment.

Carmela Gutierrez