Thank you for choosing The Early Education Center (EEC) of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It is our hope, our prayer and our cherished task to provide you and your children with a safe, loving and nurturing environment where your children thrive, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. Community with you, the parents, is an essential aspect of our program, we are eager to know you and hope the EEC becomes an extension of your family.
The mission of the Early Education Center at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is to provide children with a safe, loving and nurturing environment where they can grow spiritually, emotionally, physically and academically. Our hope is that our young students will find great joy in coming to school and that they will develop social skills that will help them to form meaningful friendships. Our focus is to instill a love of God, of people and of learning in each child. We believe that children who are enthusiastic about learning, feel loved and known within their school and are skilled at collaborating with their peers will thrive in a school environment for years to come.
The EEC currently serves families of children ranging in age from 1- 4 years old. Generally speaking, children in the toddler program turn one on or before September 1st of their school year and children in the two and three year old programs turn two or three by the same date.
Out toddler program is taught by Michelle Latham and Elizabeth McLean. Our primary goal with toddlers is to give them the very best first school experience possible. Tremendous amounts of social, emotional and practical life skills are learned in this second year of life and we are delighted to love and guide them through this crucial year. Our toddler curriculum follows the same thematic unit as our preschool classes. In addition, toddlers are introduced to to several Bible stories, poems, songs, and books. Toddlers will learn to point to and label various body parts, they will also learn their first and last name, are taught 28 signs for basic words and are introduced to 28 animals as well as various colors and shapes. Daily activities are provided to target and strengthen fine and gross motor skills. Our toddler class kicks off the week with kindermusik every Monday morning.
Two Year Olds
Our two year old program is led by Virginia Crawford, Mindy West, and Courtney Williams. The 2k curriculum is geared toward helping our young friends gain exposure to the alphabet, counting, colors and shapes. Children in our 2k classes will explore special units of science, expressive art as well as shadows and light. We also focus on fine and gross motor development as well as basic manners and self care. In circle time and throughout the day the children will review various Bible stories, nursery rhymes, finger-plays, and songs. The two year old children go to our Outdoor Classroom daily and to our dramatic playroom routinely. They participate in Special Subjects; Light and Shadow, Kindermusik, OT and Me, Rhyme Time and Jesus and Me.
Three Year Olds
Our 3k program has a fabulous team of teachers. Cazra Guy is a 3k teacher as well as the Curriculum Director for the EEC. Mindy Mainwaring and Caroline Wesch both hold Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education. Caroline Thompson joins our team this year and brings years of preschool experience and a true love for exposing children to the world around us. Our curriculum for the 3k is called Get Set for School which was created by the founders of Handwriting Without Tears. It is a cutting edge, hands on, play based program that is grounded in research on cognitive, social and physical development of preschool age children. We focus on important reading skills through read aloud‘s, concepts of print, phonological awareness activities, listening comprehension, and oral language development activities. To develop their math skills we routinely work on rote counting, counting with one to one correspondence, patterns, subitizing, and number recognition. We are able to incorporate science into our thematic units in fun and exciting ways. The three year olds attend a Special Subject every day which include Art, Learning Lab, OT and Me, Rhyme Time and Jesus and Me.
Special Subjects at The Early Education Center were established to enrich our students by providing them with a variety of creative classes led by teachers who have specific training in each area of study.
Jesus and Me
All of our preschool students attend Jesus and Me which is taught by the endlessly creative, Mindy Inge. Jesus and Me is a sensory rich approach to embracing children’s natural sense of wonder about God and His creation. With specific emphasis on character development, Jesus and Me is a spiritually enriching and engaging class.
Taught by certified music educator Emily Howart, our Kindermusik class will follow the ABC Music and Me program. ABC Music and Me is a researched based program developed to enhance language, listening and social skills.
OT and Me
Our OT and Me class is taught by Occupational Therapist, Candace Arnold. During OT and Me children will be given opportunities to strengthen crucial fine and gross motor skills which contribute to success in handwriting, self help skills and motor planning.
Rhyme Time is a Nursery Rhyme themed class taught by our very own Mother Goose, Mindy Inge. During Rhyme Time children are surrounded with opportunities to explore the Nursery Rhyme of the week. Through games, puppets, felt boards, songs, crafts and props children will learn many classic Nursery Rhymes. The repetition of rhymes and stories teaches children how language works and builds memory capabilities that can be applied to all sorts of activities. Nursery rhymes help children to feel confident about singing, dancing and performing because they are so easy to grasp and fun.
Paula Kiszla is a 3k assistant and an experienced children’s art instructor who also teaches art as a Special Subject at the EEC. Art is an everyday activity at the Early Education Center. Art as a special subject focuses specifically on exploring the creative process used in the masterpieces of famous artists.
Learning Lab is taught by EEC Resource Teacher and Aftercare Director, Dru Jones. During Learning Lab, Tiny Saints explore science, engineering, math and art through hands on activities while practicing age appropriate social skills.
A common goal of believers is to integrate their spiritual life into their everyday, not just to worship or seek God on Sundays in church but in all that we do and at all times. An additional goal for us is to model that to your little ones while they are with us at the EEC. There will be countless teachable moments that arise during the day, to pray for a friend, to celebrate God’s goodness, to ask Him for help and to delight in His creation. Below are some of the planned ways we hope to enrich your children spiritually.
Thank you Lord for play and rest
For all the things that I love best
In the wonder of each day
bless my work and bless my play.
Keep me gentle, keep me strong
Be with me all day long.
Give me joy in all I do
and help me do my best through you.
One of our most cherished times at the EEC is our chapel service in the Little Church at 8:05 on Tuesday mornings. Led by the Reverend John Riggin, these meaningful services help our children to gain exposure to the liturgy of the Church, enjoy the beauty of St. Paul’s Chapel and be in community with their school mates. Parents are always welcome to attend Chapel, we trust you will love it as much as we do!
The Early Education Center seeks to provide children and their families with a welcoming and loving environment that stimulates learning and helps young children to develop a love of school. Our classrooms, both inside and out, are set up to enhance our multi sensory approach to learning.
Our indoor classrooms are each equipped with reading nooks, dramatic play areas, art stations and sensory tables. The 3k classrooms each have interactive whiteboards, Promethean boards, which are used to digitally connect the classroom and provide the students with additional hands on learning opportunities. We are piloting a Promethean Board in one 2k classroom this fall and eager to see our two year old students explore this new resource for their grade level.
Designed by an award winning outdoor classroom specialist and implemented by a horticulturist who has worked at zoos across the country our outdoor classroom is one of the highlights of our school. When dreaming up our space we chose to include some of our favorite Gulf Coast landmarks. The Outdoor Classroom has two incredible additions this year, Mobile Bay, a shallow stream for children to explore constructed by an incredibly talented and hard working EEC parent, Jonah Dismukes. Our Mobile Bay area is completed by a fishing boat and fossil dig sand area. We have also been fortunate to be given a tricycle track we’ve named I-65! This new gross motor wonderland weaves through our wonderful wooded area and was generously donated by Kelly and Josh McElhenny of McElhenny Construction. Our water table represents Five Rivers and our Delta area is the home of a nine box turtles who love to be fed by their favorite EEC students. Springhill is represented by a tall grassy mound with embedded slides and the Avenue of the Oaks will be represented by a “hiking” trail through the woods. A trip to Mobile isn’t complete without traveling through one of our tunnels so we were sure to include a tunnel, too. The Outdoor Classroom gives children the opportunity to be immersed in stimulating learning experiences and to engage with delight in God’s creation.
Staff and Faculty
The Faculty of the EEC includes a director, teachers, assistants and specialists. Our director holds a master’s degree and all of our teachers hold degrees in education or are in pursuit of Master’s in Early Childhood Education. Many of our teachers have additional special training in early childhood education or special education. Our assistants have bachelor’s degrees and have significant experience in child development. Throughout the week specialists in various fields such as music, drama, occupational therapy, speech therapy and religious education engage in our programs in order to enrich the experiences of our children.
In hiring all faculty and staff members we look for people with an understanding of child development, an interest in the uniqueness of each child and an ability to provide a warm and caring environment while these precious little individuals grow and flourish.
1 year olds: 1 adult : 6 children
2 year olds: 1 adult : 8 children
3 year olds: 1 adult : 11 children
Parents as Partners
Parents are the first and primary teachers in a young child’s life and your collaboration is vital to helping us ensure the best preschool experience possible for your child. We encourage parents, grandparents and caregivers to drop in anytime either to observe or to share in activities for or with their children. During Parent Preview we will provide parents with specific information on how to be involved in our programs. We will be asking for parents with a cheerful willingness to serve as room parents. We look forward to getting to know you and your gifts and to include you in the EEC.
Communication is very important to both parents and teachers. Parents will receive weekly newsletters about what is happening in their children’s classrooms as well as school wide emails. All of our teachers can be reached by email and will gladly set up teacher conferences as requested by parents. All parents will have the opportunity to come for planned conferences December.
Our hope is that all of our communication with parents is positive but we know that is not always the case, especially with young children who are learning so much about the world around them. Because of this reality we have the following procedures in place:
If your child has a mild injury at school such as a scratch or a minor fall you will find an Ouch Report in their daily folder. If for any reason your child experiences a more significant injury we will contact the parent as quickly as possible and follow the appropriate course of action to ensure your child receives the proper treatment. Please be sure to fill out an Emergency Contact form during Parent Preview and to discuss any allergies or special needs with your child’s teacher.
For the safety of all children, we cannot accept children with the following symptoms of illnesses:
Fever of greater than 100.4
Runny nose with green drainage
Diarrhea or Vomiting (including reactions to certain medications)
Impetigo-until sores are scabbed over
Chicken Pox-until sores are scabbed over and fever free for 24 hours
Measles, Mumps or Rubella
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)-until drainage is clear and redness and matting are gone
After being ill, children need to be fever and symptom free for 24 hours without medication before returning to the EEC. We reserve the right to request a doctor’s note prior to your child returning to school. When on antibiotics for an illness, the child must have been taking antibiotics 24 hours before returning to school. For the privacy of our families, please do not ask your child’s teacher about illnesses in their classroom or sickness related to a specific child.
We acknowledge that it is developmentally appropriate for preschool children to struggle with sharing, expressions of anger and frustration and personal boundaries. We see it as one of our roles as teachers to help your child develop the social skills necessary to thrive with their peers. Our first approach to discipline is redirection. If redirection is unsuccessful we will seek to implement a logical consequence ie: you have chosen to throw the car so the car will be put away. We seek to accommodate children who may feel overstimulated or need a little space from their friends be taking them to a quite place inside or outside of the classroom to regroup. One of our biggest goals is to notice the many great behaviors your children display regularly and to reinforce those consistently.
If a child should cause harm to another child while at the EEC both families will be notified of the incident in writing. Neither child’s name will be provided in the report. If the child who was harmed shows signs of significant pain or emotional distress their parent or guardian will be called. Should we have a child who is repeatedly causing harm to himself or others we will notify the parents and arrange for a conference. We will do everything in our power to work with families and to help our students develop appropriate classroom behaviors. However, if a child is consistently unsuccessful in the classroom and/or is unable to relate to his or her peers safely the EEC reserves the right to dismiss the child from the program.
All billing and other financial inquiries should be directed to our Financial Administrator, Brenda Ferguson. Brenda can be reached by phone through the church office at 251-342-8521 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Family Enrollment
Happy families are our biggest recruiters! Please send any new family interested in the EEC to our Admissions Director, Kathryn Thompson. The best way to reach Kathryn is via email at email@example.com
Safety is our number one priority at The Early Education Center. To ensure the security of our buildings all doors will be locked between 7:50 am and 2:20pm. Parents who would like to volunteer in the classrooms during school hours will need to check in upstairs with Kathryn Thompson or in the Church office. Please do not let this safety procedure discourage you from feeling welcome at the EEC. We would be delighted to have an open door policy with parents but we must have a system in place that ensures your children are as safe as possible while in our care.
You will notice that the EEC uses a keypad system to access our buildings while we are locked throughout the school day. Near each exit we have green buttons used to unlock the doors. For their safety, children are not allowed to touch the green button. Please encourage them to follow this rule even when they are exiting the building with you or another adult.
Allergy Awareness – Peanut/Tree Nut Free School Policy
The Early Education Center is built on a foundation of love that honors the goodness and unique gifts of every child. This school year we have a number of children with severe peanut allergies. As a school dedicated to serving some of the youngest members of our community, we understand that many of our students are not old enough to make sound decisions when it comes to what should go into their mouths and are unable to personally manage their allergies. And while our staff will do all that we can to clean and wipe down playing surfaces, toys, and chairs, there are some children within our school who could have a serious allergic reaction from contact with even a microscopic amount of the offending foods. There are many instances where children use common space within our building and it is because of this that we have decided to make our school a Peanut/Tree Nut-Free School this year.
We ask that no peanuts or tree nuts be brought into our school. Foods sent in for snack, lunch, or any class event should be carefully checked to make sure they are peanut/tree nut-free. Families can help ensure that our school stays peanut/tree nut-free by reading packaging labels and reminding children not to share food with other children at school. We need to make sure that there is little opportunity for a child to be exposed to foods that could harm him/her.
We appreciate your cooperation with this policy—the sacrifice of not having nuts or nut products in the school is a small one to make compared to the consequences a child with severe allergies could face. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Erin Schwant.
Morning carpool begins at 7:15 and will run until 7:45. 3K Parents should pull into the lane closest to the EEC and stop at the sign just past the green awning covering our entrance. Toddler and 2K parents should remain in the lane closest to the EEC and pull to the small steps just outside the 2k building. Maps will be provided during Parent Preview. On the first day of school parents are welcome to park and walk their children to the main carpool door of their respective buildings. However, we encourage you to use the carpool line beginning Monday, August 20th. Reducing the number of cars parking and backing out increases the safety of our parking lot and also helps carpool traffic run more smoothly. If you walk your child to school please plan to drop off at the carpool door.
Carpool is a busy time for our staff and our full focus needs to be on welcoming the children and helping them safely enter our building. If you would like to have a conversation about your child it may be best to save it for a scheduled time when our staff can give you our full attention rather than trying to squeeze it in during carpool. Teachers will walk the children to their class. Children may not walk into the buildings alone and are never to be left outside the buildings without an adult.
For the safety of our students, we ask that everything you send through carpool is contained in your child’s backpack. This includes, blankets, lovies, sweaters and any additional item coming to school. If you are dropping off something for an EEC special event we will have a second staff member help unload. When we are unloading children we need to do our best to keep our hands as free as possible in case we need to quickly help a child.
Afternoon carpool will run along the same carpool line as the morning, all children will be picked up at the original EEC building under the first green awning. Half day pickup is at noon. Please note that there is not a window of time for pickup at this time of day. Please plan to arrive promptly at 12pm, children who have not been picked up by 12:05pm will be taken to the Church office. Full day carpool will begin at 2:20pm. Our hope is that by the time the St. Paul’s School bell rings at 2:35pm many of your children will be buckled into their carseats so that our line can merge into the SPS line and we can efficiently move cars off of Old Shell Road. Teachers can not buckle children into their carseats, please step out of your car and buckle your child quickly before moving forward in the line. Full day children who have not been picked up by 2:45 will be taken to After School Care and charged accordingly. All carpool procedures will be reviewed during Parent Preview.
Late Drop Off, Early Pick Up and Visitors
Please make every effort to have your child at school prior to 7:45am. Mornings are a child’s best learning time and they benefit greatly from the routine provided by going through carpool and settling in with their class. Parents who arrive after 7:45am to bring their children to school should walk into the upper level of our building, check in at the front desk and wait with their child until Kathryn Thompson or an EEC staff member is available to walk the child into the EEC. The doors to the EEC will be locked at 7:45am and will reopen at 2:20pm.
The EEC becomes a quiet place by 12:15pm every day, children are resting or napping and we are busy helping them get settled or participating in planning meetings. As you know, a good nap can be crucial for a young child to have a pleasant afternoon and evening. We do our best to honor that need by providing a quiet and relaxed napping environment for all our students. When children are picked up at various times between 12:15pm and 2:15pm student’s naps are often disrupted. For this reason, we ask that you do your best to avoid early dismissals during this time. If you can not schedule an appointment after 3pm and need to pick up your child early please help us by picking up during noon carpool. If you would like to pick up your child during noon carpool please send a note in their folder or text your child’s teacher and Erin prior to 11am.
In order to bring your child to school late or pick them up early please come upstairs to the main office of the church and someone will bring your child to you.
Snacks and Lunches
Lunches can be ordered through MMI cafeteria or can be packed daily, all children should bring a protein based snack to school. If you choose to pack food for your child please ensure that their lunch box can keep food cold. All lunches ordered through MMI must be turned into the EEC by the due date listed on the lunch order form. Late lunch orders can not be provided through the EEC.
Uniforms should be ordered through Zoghby’s Uniforms and are required daily. Boys and girls are required to have a pair of Native water shoes in red, navy, blue or gray. In addition to their Natives, girl’s uniform shoes are a solid white, velcro tennis shoe such as a Ked. Boy’s uniform shoes are solid grey velcro tennis shoes such as New Balance 990. J-Ray Shoes has samples of a variety of white shoes as well as grey New Balances in stock for your convenience. However, you are welcome to order shoes from the company of your choice. Children should wear solid white socks. Girls wearing the uniform dress should wear bloomers daily and are welcome to wear white tights or white leggings on cold days. Solid color red, blue or white sweaters, rain jackets, coats and sweatshirts are welcome when needed. If your child’s uniform or school supplies don’t meet the requirements listed on the EEC supply list we may ask that you replace them with an item that meets specifications. Please remember to write your child’s name on everything! If you send a lovie or blanket to school for your child to nap with please plan to leave it at the EEC for the week. We will send all sleeping items home on Fridays.
Birthdays are BIG when you are a preschooler! We love celebrating your child’s special day, each classroom has wonderful birthday traditions. Due to the severe allergies in our school we do not allow birthday foods or treats of any kind. We will celebrate your child well and look forward to showing you pictures!
If you would like to distribute birthday invitations to children at school please include the whole class. We are more than happy to send invitations home in children’s Daily Folders.
Rest and Play
Children in the half day class are invited to stay for Rest and Play in the afternoons for the price of $15 per day. 24 hour notice is required to register your child for Rest and Play and payment must be sent prior to your child’s stay. Please be sure to send a nap mat to school with your child on these occasions. Rest and Play will dismiss through the carpool line with the full day students.
After School Care
After School Care is lead by Dru Jones. After School Care is located in the 2k Village. Parents coming to pick up their students should first go to their child’s aftercare classroom to pick up their belongings and then follow the posted schedule to locate their child. Detailed information about our After School Care program will be provided during Parent Preview.
Communication that would best be answered in detail should be sent to both the director and/or your child’s teacher is through email. Faculty and staff members will check their email at least every 24 hours during the school week. However, teachers may not get an email during school hours because they will be busy with the children. If there is information you need your child’s teacher to have at the start of a school day please send a note in their daily folder. Additionally, you are welcome to send a group text to your child’s teacher(s) and to Erin Schwant if you would like to communicate a simple message. We are able to glance at our phones during classroom breaks but we may not be able to respond at length until after school or during nap time. Please do not be offended if an EEC staff member replies to your text with a brief response. Your children are our priority and we do not want to take away any additional time from them. Phone calls are typically returned during nap time or after school. If you need to reach your child’s teacher or the director immediately by phone please call the EEC at 251-725-0048 or the Church office at 251-342-8521.
Our text blast service, Remind, is a great way to get information to our families quickly. Please be sure you have subscribed to both your child’s class and to the school wide EEC group.
The confidentiality of each child’s information is strictly maintained to protect the privacy rights of the parents and children. Therefore, we will not discuss or otherwise communicate any form of information concerning the care or condition of any child with unauthorized individuals. Please keep in mind that confidentiality extends to issues of illness, discipline, academic performance and any other details related to non-custodial children.
* The Parent Handbook is subject to change throughout the school year. The most updated copy will always be available online through our website http://www.stpaulsearlyedcenter.com
Thank you again for allowing us to be a part of your lives in such a meaningful way. As parents we know that you are trusting us with one of life’s greatest gifts. We are tremendously honored and look forward to helping your little ones to grow in love, spirit and knowledge throughout this year.
You are a blessing to us!
the EEC staff
* The Parent Handbook may be amended throughout the school year.