E-town partners with U-GRO Learning Centres
January 4, 2018   //   By:   //   Real-world Learning

Elizabethtown College will have the opportunity to expand its educational relationship with U-GRO Learning Centres, in spring 2019, when the Harrisburg-based childcare company opens a $3 million facility at the Shrine Road entrance to Masonic Villages Elizabethtown.

U-GRO Learning Centres, which runs a dozen advanced childcare centers in south-central Pennsylvania, announced plans this past fall to break ground in 2018 on the facility, located just a mile from the Elizabethtown College campus.

This newest center expands the lab-school learning environment in which E-town education students observe and teach in various U-GRO classrooms. Rachel Finley-Bowman, associate professor of education and department chair at Elizabethtown, and Greg Holsinger ’84, president and CEO of U-GRO, co-founded the lab school program. The two organizations have maintained this partnership for the past five years.

At Elizabethtown, we know how important real-world learning opportunities are.”

Laboratory schools offer benefits to the children, to U-GRO and to the College. The relationship provides students and professors with classroom time and a chance to observe the learning environment and relationships between teachers and students. This enhances teaching strategies and hands-on training for students seeking careers in early childhood and elementary education.

“The lab school environment provides clear benefits to its participants through research, teaching collaboration, resource sharing and, most importantly, building capacity as a learning community,” said Finley-Bowman.  “It’s an extra educational piece.”

An important part of the learning, she said, is the research. “The students can try (out ideas), see what works best and provide data. And the parents get to have their children participate in a cutting-edge research component.” It’s an all-around partnership with students, parents, professors and U-GRO, she said.

“At Elizabethtown, we know how important real-world learning opportunities are,” Finley-Bowman said. “It’s a requirement of our program to get our education majors into classroom settings in their first year.”

Like its other facilities, the Masonic Villages Elizabethtown location will provide a Life Skills program and offer a Blended Model® curriculum — providing a balance between teacher-directed and child-led learning, designed to prepare children for the transition to kindergarten — for 148 infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Facility plans include an outdoor playground, an indoor playspace, 10 classrooms and space to accommodate full- and part-time programs for children six weeks through fifth grade, including full-day kindergarten, before- and after-school care and a summer camp program.

The facility will employ 30.

The U-GRO teaching staff is another integral part of the lab-school partnership, said Finley-Bowman. E-town student teachers get to work directly with U-GRO teachers, sharing ideas in both directions. “It’s an all-around partnership from the E-town side and the U-GRO side.”

About the Author :

E.A. (Elizabeth) Harvey is the communications manager and news editor at Elizabethtown College. She has worked in the Office of Marketing and Communications since 2008, after more than two decades as a newspaper feature writer. She holds a bachelor's degree in corporate communication from Elizabethtown College.

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