Learning from the Best: CHS Instructional Leadership Visits Boulder Journey School
Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) has an exciting opportunity as we build a high-quality learning community together. Quickly approaching the opening of our first Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) this fall, we are taking time to learn from some of the incredible programs advancing the field of early learning.
CHS is committed to constantly evolving to improve outcomes for the children we serve. And who better to learn from than one of the ‘leading lights’ in the ECE world?
In May, the CHS instructional leadership team, consisting of members from the Central Office and from our first location, CHS Hershey, was delighted to spend two days at the Boulder Journey School (BJS) in Colorado. BJS is leading the way nationally with its work in the Reggio Emilia approach, and for 20 years, it has partnered with the University of Colorado to offer an ECE residency teacher program.
During the visit, the CHS team gained insight into high-quality learning environments in which children are seen as capable and competent and able to conduct their own learning within the context of safe, calm, and nurturing relationships.
CHS participants learned the school’s philosophy that time is a right for children. Children have an organization to their day that is familiar and transitions smoothly, and they are not rushed or forced through the learning process. This means children’s investigations are honored, along with their need to fully immerse themselves in learning so that the learning process is not rushed or forced into artificial blocks of time.
There are vibrant activities all over the school, even in unexpected places. Utilizing the Reggio Emilia approach, even the hallways are spaces to learn. For example, a walkway can serve as a “mail center” where children can sit and create letters to send to their peers or parents.
After this informative and inspirational visit, our CHS team believes the experience will help us nurture, educate, and empower children and families in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives, as the BJS approach is highly complementary to our own.
Our future CHS families will see these elements in action in our emphasis on projects and experiences over rote learning and worksheets. Each of our six CHS Centers in Pennsylvania will have stimulating spaces encouraging hands-on play and exploration in a nurturing, home-like environment and will cover all costs for qualifying families.
We also believe there is great potential to learn from BJS’s approach to teacher residency and attracting potential teachers into the field of ECE and supporting them on their journey to becoming highly knowledgeable and skilled practitioners. It also gives them the opportunity to become exceptional at using a child-directed curriculum, planning high-quality learning environments, and utilizing a project-based approach to teaching and learning with children.
For everyone at Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning who participated in the trip to BJS, this was a transformational experience as CHS gets ready to take the next step in our journey to serving children and families in Pennsylvania.