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Southwestern Elementary aiming for preschool licensing

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

The Southwestern Elementary preschool program has its sights set on becoming licensed, and its goals aim high, Superintendent Dr. Paula Maurer told the school board during its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Maurer told the board that she anticipates moving up to Level 3 in the Paths to Quality guideline set forth by the state of Indiana “very quickly” once Southwestern’s preschool program becomes licensed.

She said she has those expectations because of the school’s planned curriculum in place. Once the school reaches that level, it will create more opportunities in the program, she said.

“Most of all it shows the community that we have a quality preschool,” she said. “We have all of those things now. But by going through these standards, somebody could look up Southwestern Elementary’s preschool and see on the website that we’ve met these standards, which were set by the state.”

This is the second year for the preschool program, Principal Joshua Edwards said and by fulfilling the Paths to Quality guidelines, the school is “taking a big step.”

“We’re already doing a lot of good things, it’s a very exciting time becoming an accredited preschool,” he said. “We think it’s time with that accreditation.”

Maurer later clarified that Southwestern’s preschool program is already accredited and that they were aiming at becoming licensed.

“There are certain guidelines you have to follow and I think that’s going to help us improve and get our brand out there and say ‘Look, they’re doing the right things’ and other people recognize that,” Edwards said. “So far we’re off to a really good start.”

There are four levels in the Paths to Quality, which aims to improve quality preschool programs in the state through a series of steps.

The first step is meeting the health and safety needs of children.

The second provides an environment that supports learning and development.

The third, which is the level Maurer anticipates quickly moving to, includes planned curriculum.

And the fourth is the highest-rated and demonstrates “a commitment to the highest level of professionalism in quality early care and education,” according to childcareindiana.org.

That website allows parents to see which level preschool programs are in their county. Shelby County currently has 11 programs listed – seven at Level 1; one at Level 2; and three at Level 3.

“It’s very important for us to go ahead because we do have such a quality preschool, that we go ahead and show our community that we’ve met these standards,” Maurer told the board.

The goal, she said, is to reach Level 4, the highest level, “which I’m sure we will achieve.”

“Just another selling point,” board member Michael Burbrink said at the end of her presentation. “We become a nationally-accredited preschool.”

Edwards said the elementary school will have a preschool and kindergarten roundup in mid-March.