Wilkes University Establishes Partnership with Illumination Early Learning Center
Wilkes University and the Illumination Early Learning Center have partnered to advance the preparation of future teachers. Wilkes early childhood education students will conduct field experiences at the center. In addition, select Wilkes undergraduate early childhood education classes will be taught at the center, allowing immediate hands-on learning within the early childcare environment.
The partnership recognizes Illumination Early Learning Center as a Professional Development School partnership. Professional Development Schools offer innovative partnerships with Wilkes that are dedicated to the improvement of classroom practice and enhanced student achievement. Professional Development Schools include childcare centers and schools from pre-kindergarten through twelve grades.
“It is through collaboration that we can most effectively provide for each child -- both in and out of the classroom,” said Rhonda Rabbitt, dean of the Wilkes School of Education. “Wilkes is raising the bar on the quality of early childhood education for everyone’s benefit.”
The Wilkes elementary and early childhood education program leads to pre-kindergarten through fourth grade certification (PreK-4). The program also includes an 18-credit reading minor. Students learn and practice how to actively engage with students from birth through fourth grade while learning how to develop and implement best teaching practices. As part of the program, students complete more than 550 field experience and professional development school hours.
“We are excited to partner with Wilkes University by giving education students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills, interact and learn from experienced professionals, ultimately providing a glimpse into the early childhood education field,” said Annemarie Carl, director of Illumination Early Learning Center.
Illumination Early Learning Center is located inside the Friedman Jewish Community Center, 613 S. J. Strauss Lane in Kingston. It enrolls infants to preschool-aged children of all faiths.
The center is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early education which values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. This philosophy has a strong focus on collaboration where each child is an equal participant and having their thoughts and questions valued. The Reggio approach emphasizes hands-on discovery learning that allows the child to use all their senses to learn.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of preschool and elementary teachers will grow seven percent over the next 10 years due to a continued focus on the importance of early childhood education. The number of students enrolling in prekindergarten and elementary schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, as will the number of teachers and classes needed to accommodate them.
Wilkes also offers a fully online pathway to a bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education for working adults who have completed 55 credits or an associate degree. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Child Care Association, the T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) Early Childhood Pennsylvania Scholarship offers financial assistance to early childcare professionals in Keystone STARS facilities who wish to advance their education and expertise and move up the career lattice. Prospective students can learn more at www.wilkes.edu/education.
Pictured from left (seated): Sierra Erwine, Wilkes education student; Rhonda Rabbitt, Wilkes Dean of the School of Education; Cassandra Novakowski, Wilkes education student; (standing) Annemarie Carl, Director of Illumination Early Learning Center; Bill Grant, Wilkes Board of Trustees; Patricia Reese, Wilkes adjunct faculty member; Beth Spencer, Wilkes Coordinator of Field Experiences; Suzanne Galella, Wilkes Undergraduate Education Chair; Amy Hnasko, Wilkes Assistant Professor; Hannah Mislevy, Wilkes education student; Ann Marie Aed Wilkes Supervisor of Field Experience; and Cassie Button, Wilkes education student.