On Monday, March 19, 2018, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh came out with other community leaders, partners and families to celebrate the official opening of the new Y Head Start Center at Fayette, a 17,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art early childhood learning city in East Baltimore’s Pleasant View Gardens community.
Once the site of the Pleasant View Day Care Center, the facility is equipped with technology to supplement learning, a Family Engagement Center where families can come together and spend time playing interactive games, and a multi-purpose room for hosting larger events. It will also host workshops for families, professional development for associates and teachers, and offer training opportunities for area residents. However, most importantly, the center will allow up to 80 children from this community to receive the head start education that they need to adequately prepare for kindergarten.
Head Start was introduced by the Johnson administration as part of the War on Poverty, as research has shown that the earlier children begin to learn, the more prepared they will be for the education they receive in their later years and the better their chances of escaping poverty as adults will be.
“With the addition of the Y Head Start at Fayette, we are helping to set more children living in poverty up for a lifetime of success,” said John Hoey, president and CEO of the Y of Central Maryland. “This was a pretty big effort for us. We transformed a former daycare center that had fallen on hard times and was in disrepair into a facility with living classrooms that offered far more than a regular daycare center can provide. The opportunities that these students will have will be absolutely transformative.”
Students will receive whole-child development to ensure that they are prepared academically, socially, and emotionally to enter kindergarten ready to learn. “The center also offers family advocacy and support services that really get families involved in their children’s education and development,” Hoey continued. “There are requirements for families enrolled here in terms of volunteering and engaging. This is a comprehensive program that just includes a high-quality preschool environment, but it goes way beyond what happens in the classroom.”
The classrooms are spacious and brightly lit. Student’s work adorns the hallways and bulletin boards, and the classrooms are equipped with technology that allows teachers to access progress reports, create personalized learning experiences to help students meet develop- mental milestones as they learn and play.
Each classroom has a white board and is complete with toys and other supplemental learning material. Laughter can be heard coming from the open classroom doors as students engage in active play and learn the world around them. The new center also has an upgraded video surveillance security system and interactive intercom system with the ability to view everyone who requests entry before allowing them to enter.
This is a place where children learn and grow, where parents learn the skills they need to support and encourage their children’s development, and where families can come together and have fun in an environment that rivals the most expensive private pre-school programs often unavailable to lower income residents.
“We are so glad and so proud to have this relationship with the Y in Central Maryland,” Mayor Pugh said during her comments at the ceremony. “Because they show us that it’s what we do for the least that matters most to all of us. Our children will now have exposure to the opportunity and technology that will allow them to compete with their peers around the country. They will be able to realize their dreams when we teach them to be competitive, not combative.”