One of the most challenging aspects of parenthood is childcare, especially when it comes to balancing work or school with family. Likewise, parents of young children understand that early childhood is a vital time in a child’s life not just to learn basic skills, but also to develop socially and emotionally while developing interests that can positively impact their life. Millersville University’s very own STEM U classroom is a solution for many local families.
The STEM U classroom, located in Bard Hall on the University’s campus, is an early learning center serving families with children from birth to age five. While serving as an early educational space for the children, the program also focuses on helping parents.
The center was founded in 2018 with a ceremony led by the president of Millersville, Dr. Daniel A. Wubah, and Amanda Burns, the vice president of education at Community Action Partnership. The program is run by Community Action Partnership, Lancaster County’s largest anti-poverty organization. STEM U is one of many Thrive to Five classrooms, formally known as the Lancaster County Head Start & CAP Child Care program.
“The classroom was designed as a two-generational approach,” explains Burns. “The early learning services at STEM U prioritize Millersville University student-parents by providing a learning environment for their children on campus while they continue their post-secondary education at Millersville.”
“Our hope is to expand access to additional families, including Millersville students and employees, to help them reach their professional and educational goals,” says Dr. Victor DeSantis, vice president of external affairs at Millersville University. “As we expand access, we are supporting the children with an excellent educational program as well as supporting the workforce and employers in the area.”
STEM U also works with Penn Manor school district, Millersville’s College of Education and the surrounding community. Education students can have field placements at the center, but some volunteer alongside students from other majors as well. For example, music students have shared their talents with the children enrolled, and the center holds possibilities for all majors on campus to collaborate with them.
Last fall, the classroom received a visit from Senator Bob Casey as he visited similar Head Start programs across the state.
“It was a wonderful experience to have Senator Casey onsite,” says Dr. Elizabeth Powers, professor of education at Millersville University. “Having him here acknowledged the great work that we have already accomplished and the possibility for expansion and making an even wider impact.”
“One highlight of the visit was that it brought together the CEO of CAP, Amanda Burns and a mother and her two children who are enrolled in the program,” Powers continues. “Having the mom share her experiences and her appreciation for the program was like a dream come true for me. Our goal of serving children and families is happening and CAP has truly helped us to serve our campus and community.”
“We want to thank all the people who supported the founding of the center, including Dr. Wubah and Guilbert Brown, our University vice president of finance, as well as Dr. DeSantis who is helping us to expand our offerings,” concludes Powers.
For more information about Thrive to Five locations, click here.