Officials from Chatham-Kent, the Lambton-Kent District School Board, and St. Clair College cut the ribbon to open an early learning lab at Winston Churchill Public School in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of St. Clair College)

$20,000 donated to create early learning lab

A donation from Chatham-Kent has led to a unique partnership between St. Clair College and the local public school board.

The municipality donated $20,000 to furnish an early learning lab at Winston Churchill Public School in Chatham for students in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at the college.

The Lambton-Kent District School Board donated the classroom space, which was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

The program sees up to 15 kindergarten students brought in with their educators to interact with the ECE students. The college students then go to the kindergarten classrooms to work with the children.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this learning space at Winston Churchill Public School and to partner with St. Clair College’s ECE program,” said Ben Hazzard, Superintendent of Education, Early Years/Elementary at Lambton Kent District School Board. “Our staff and students in the Kindergarten program greatly benefit from having young and enthusiastic ECE students in their
classrooms each week. We know this partnership will provide wonderful learning opportunities for both the ECE students at St. Clair College and the Winston Churchill Public School staff and students for years to come.”

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.”

The municipality said it was happy to help fund the initiative because it is responsible for providing early years programs and services in Chatham-Kent.

The classroom at Winston Churchill will also be used for pop-up EarlyOn Child and Family Centres Program, which is geared to parents and children 0-6.

Officials from Chatham-Kent, the Lambton-Kent District School Board, and St. Clair College attend the opening of an early learning lab at Winston Churchill Public School in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of St. Clair College)