Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Launches Innovative Professional Development Program
Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) launched its professional development program for the teachers and staff of its first cost-free Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) opening in Hershey next year. Upon program completion, the staff will serve 150 children from birth to age 5 from economically disadvantaged and at-risk backgrounds.
As a subsidiary of Milton Hershey School (MHS), CHS designed the program to equip Center staff to provide a whole child approach to early childhood education. This approach has led to successful outcomes at MHS for more than a century. CHS’ innovative program will allow staff including teachers, family liaisons, and Center leadership to fully immerse themselves into CHS’ mission, expand their existing knowledge, and build relationships with each other before each Center opens. Throughout the program, staff will take part in group and individual learning, off-site experiences, and presentations from guest speakers.
“During the next several months, the teachers and staff of CHS Hershey will have a rare opportunity to grow together and develop a culture that supports a high-quality, nurturing learning environment for our future students,” said CHS Executive Director Senate Alexander. “Allowing the team to work together during the coming year before the Center opens will build a solid foundation for CHS Hershey. Starting early to create the environment to support children’s educational and emotional growth will set them up for lifelong success.”
To kick off the program, CHS hosted a convocation featuring keynote speaker Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek is known for her research on the development of early language and literacy as well as the role of play in learning.
Play is a key component of the CHS program, fostered through several indoor and outdoor play areas planned for each Center, including the first location in Hershey. CHS Hershey is part of a $350 million initiative to initially develop six ECECs in Pennsylvania. The Centers will provide non-residential weekday care and education with a curriculum designed to enhance children’s educational, social, and emotional development. CHS also will provide students with nutritious meals, transportation, and other needed supplies and will offer integrated support services to families of enrolled children.
“Our early childhood education initiative enables us to expand Milton and Catherine Hershey’s vision by serving more children, and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to ensure that the children we serve are cared for by the most highly trained and caring professionals,” said MHS and CHS President Pete Gurt. “The fact that this groundbreaking program takes place in a historic landmark built by Milton Hershey is a reminder of the power of their enduring legacy, still changing lives for the better.”
CHS is utilizing the historic 14 East Chocolate Avenue building, built in the 1930s and formerly the Hershey Community Building, for the first professional development program. The space offers multiple unique areas for training and collaboration. With staff training underway and the opening of CHS Hershey approaching next year, additional employment opportunities will be posted in the Careers section of chslearn.org in the coming months.
ABOUT CATHERINE HERSHEY SCHOOLS FOR EARLY LEARNING
Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning will provide a cost-free educational, social, and cognitive program to children from birth to age 5 from economically disadvantaged and at-risk backgrounds through the development of initially six Early Childhood Resource Centers. The Centers are subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School and will be staffed and operated independently of the Milton Hershey School core model. For more information, visit chslearn.org.
ABOUT MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL
Milton Hershey School is one of the world’s best private schools, where qualifying students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade live on campus and receive an exceptional educational experience—with all costs covered. For more information, visit mhskids.org.