Early learning academy to open in September

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, April 4, 2019

WEST POINT — A ten-member committee seeking to advance early childhood education in the local area is excited to announce the opening of the Chattahoochee Early Learning Academy (CELA). A K3 lead teacher is currently being sought to head the program and classes are set to start on Sept. 3, 2019, at the West Point Youth Center, located off O.G. Skinner Drive near the West Point Active Life Center.

“We are very grateful to have a building,” said committee member Dr. Lacey Southerland. “We hope to have 10 to 15 3-year-olds for our first class. We will be trying to prepare them for Pre-K. The long-term goal for this is workforce development for West Point and the surrounding area. All research shows that this is where it begins.”

The ten-member committee includes Dr. Southerland, Sandra Glover, Mayor Steve Tramell, Monica Barber, Karen Cagle, Ben Wilcox, Trudye Johnson, Zelma Brock, Thelma Hodo and Aaron Lewis. They have been exploring this idea since last July and are now ready to get it started.

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Last summer, Tramell attended a conference on this subject. One of the main points stressed at that conference was the critical importance of early childhood education. Children who have a good experience with Pre-K tend to have productive outcomes such as high school graduation, college attendance and workforce readiness as young adults.

While workforce readiness is a long-term goal for the Chattahoochee Early Learning Academy, the short-term goal is to have students who are literate by the time they are in the third grade.

“We’d like to have a good mix of students from both lower economic households as well as those from medium to upper income households,” said Southerland, who is a professor at Point University. “The West Point Housing Authority is helping us with it. Point University is also cooperating. Education majors can interact with the children. They can be paid assistants and have lab experiences as part of their class assignments.”

“We are very excited about this and the potential it has for our community,” said Board Member Sandra Glover. “We’d like for the parents to be involved in this program.”

In the 2019-20 charter year, CELA will have one class for 3-year-olds. At a minimum, their lead teacher will have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development or a related field. Point students will work as classroom assistants.

The daily schedule will run from 7:30 a.m. until noon. The curriculum will be based on best practices to foster children’s learning through a play-based approach. The day will include music, art, literacy, math-based manipulatives, large motor and fine motor tasks, blocks, dramatic play, computer games, stories and small-group language activities focused on pre-reading skills. A breakfast and snacks will be served. Once each month, the children will be taken on a field trip to a bakery or fire station and guest visitors will talk to them on topics ranging from making cupcakes to looking at reptiles.

Parents will be expected to:

  • Attend at least one parent conference with the classroom teacher who will review their child’s progress;
  • Attend at least one parent meeting per semester. Issues to be discussed range from parent education to school policies while providing the opportunity to become better acquainted with other parents and staff members.
  • Consider allowing the teacher to make one visit to your home environment to be able to meet the child on their own turf.

To be selected, the child must be three years of age by Sept. 1, 2019.  CELA may be contacted at ChattChild@gmail.com.

Applications for the lead teacher will be considered in the order they are received.