Partnership Builds Positive Relationships Between College Students and Kindergarteners

Patti France, ECE representatives and kids

A $20,000 donation by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has allowed St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology and the Lambton Kent District School Board to create a unique partnership involving students in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program and Kindergarteners at Winston Churchill Public School.

A classroom was donated by the school board to be used as an early learning lab and the municipal funds were used by the college to furnish the room.

The program focuses on building positive relationships between the children and the college students. Up to 15 kindergarten pupils are brought into the ECE classroom with their educators to interact with the college students. The scenario is then rotated, and the college students head over to the kindergarten classrooms to work with the children.

Brenda Huff, the ECE coordinator at St. Clair College's Chatham campus, said building relationships is a big part of the work that's done by Early Childhood Educators. "You have relationships with children. You have relationships with teachers. If you're in a school setting, you have relationships with the principal and other personnel in the school. So they're just getting to practice that relationship-based part of our profession. And that's not minor in our work."

St. Clair College President Patti France praised the program as one that will benefit students of all ages. "The school children will enjoy enhanced services to foster their intellectual, emotional and social development, while the College's ECE students will obtain the workplace experience and professional mentorship that is so essential to their education. We thank Chatham-Kent's municipal government and the Lambton-Kent District School Board for including us in this innovative new partnership."

Mark Benoit, Chair, School of Academic Studies Chatham-Kent, said he is proud of the leadership shown by those behind this initiative. "I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact the new ECE learning lab has had on the elementary students and the college students. The partnership is setting an example for the province by providing an innovative approach to educating ECE students."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday.

Patti France, ECE representatives and kids - ribbon cutting