Innovative Early Childhood Center Opens

On the first day, Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Jr. visited the classrooms at the new Early Education Center. Photo courtesy of ACPS.

ACPS welcomed more than 300 students to their first day of school at the new Early Childhood Center (ECC), co-located at John Adams Elementary School.

The Early Childhood Center was the second school that ACPS has opened this fall, following Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School that opened two days earlier. It will operate as a collaboration between ACPS and The Campagna Center, under the leadership of Heidi Haggerty. The new school will have up to 360 students once the second stage of the construction work is complete.

“We are so excited to be able to offer this preschool opportunity to Alexandria City’s youngest citizens. Our Early Childhood Center is the result of years of collaboration between many different agencies and we are committed to improving early childhood practice not only within our center but at schools and agencies across Alexandria,” said Haggerty.

For the first time, ACPS can offer encore classes such as music, physical education and library time to students with disabilities. These students will also benefit from greater inclusion with students in the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) program. Photo courtesy of ACPS.

The school aims to offer West End students and their families a safe and welcoming space where the needs of the preschool child are the complete focus. This means designing play experiences that develop social-emotional learning, the ability to persist and solve problems on their own, and vocabulary development.

In October, the school will open its first courtyard outdoor learning classroom called “Owen’s Place.” The garden will offer a dynamic environment for complex and powerful play opportunities to increase the ability of students to learn through play.

With the first stage in the modernization of the new pre-K facility complete, the center now has new bathrooms within a set of classrooms with new flooring, ceilings, lighting and paint. The new shared Welcome Center entrance will serve both the existing John Adams Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center students and staff and includes a new health suite. The new administrative suites include areas for each administrative team and for counselors, social workers and psychologists.

During the second stage of modernization, which will take place next summer, upgrades will be made to the remaining classrooms and hallways to include new flooring, ceilings, lighting and paint. There will also be upgrades to support Campagna Head Start and VPI programs.