Early Education Leadership Conference in Hershey Brings Together Hundreds of Child Advocates
The national event, hosted by Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning, focused on the importance of whole-child and whole-family care.
HERSHEY, Pa. – March 24, 2023 – Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) hosted an education leadership conference this week that engaged local, state and national professionals in discussing the importance of support and advocacy for our youngest children. The first-ever event—called the CHS ECE Leaders Summit and held over two days at the Hershey Lodge—provided expert presentations, networking opportunities, and practical takeaways for educators through a variety of keynotes and panel discussions.
“This Summit showcased just how special the early childhood education community is—the turnout, passion and talent of everyone here was so evident,” said Pete Gurt, President of CHS and Milton Hershey School (MHS). “Clearly, all of our attendees know that creating high-quality learning communities is such a critical need. I believe we inspired each other to greater commitment and action in helping young learners as we grow the future, together.”
Beginning with a keynote dinner on Wednesday, March 22, and concluding with a heartfelt address by author Nicole Lynn Lewis on Thursday, March 23, the Summit highlighted holistic concepts in early childhood care. Content tracks included whole child education, two-generational impact, and developing highly effective educators and leaders.
Among the noteworthy presenters were Dr. Junlei Li of Harvard University and Dr. Walter Gilliam of the Buffet Institute at the University of Nebraska. In addition to early learning professionals and community leaders, more than a dozen MHS students interested in the education field attended the Summit. These students met with Li, Gilliam and Senate Alexander—the executive director of CHS—and were encouraged to become the next generation of leaders in early childhood education.
“As an MHS alum myself, I’m incredibly proud to see these students so driven to help children,” Alexander said. “Giving children and families in social and financial need a chance to thrive is critical work. Through continued innovation, discussion, and collaboration between all of us who do this important work, early learning in central Pennsylvania will remain on a bright path—as evidenced by this week and far beyond.”
CHS, a subsidiary of MHS, is part of a $350 million initiative to initially develop six centers in Pennsylvania to provide high-quality cost-free education to children from birth to age 5. Centers announced so far will be located in Hershey, opening in the fall of 2023; Harrisburg, opening in 2024; Middletown, opening in 2025; and Lancaster City, New Danville, and Elizabethtown, which will begin opening in 2026. CHS is currently enrolling children at CHS Hershey and hiring qualified staff at multiple sites, including its Central Office.
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 Education 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.