Early education center creates smooth transition for young minds

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MASON, MI (WILX) -- A new building in the Mason School District is designed to bring early learners under one roof.

The former Cedar Street Elementary school was renovated into the James C. Harvey Education Center.

Cedar Street Elementary was re-purposed due to declining enrollment numbers.

The Harvey Education Center is a head start program designed for children three to six years old.

All kindergarten classes in the district were moved directly to this building.

The goal was to strengthen the connection between early childhood and kindergarten students in a unique way to reinforce learning and literacy efforts for young students.

"To have a team of people who are all experiencing the same things at the same times in their classrooms, it gives us a chance to really put resources in the right spots," Harvey Education Center Principal Angie Vandecar said.

The center opened this year and has 30 classrooms.

The building is catered and designed for early child hood learners which means tiny chairs and benches, and classrooms that are easy to find and navigate.

There are about 550 students under one roof and they're all getting their first real world and classroom experiences.

"It's rare in your career as an educator to really get to come in and build something from the ground up," Vandecar said. "You can take bits and pieces of the best practices with you along the way."

Early education in one building allows for preschool and kindergarten teachers to create an equal environment where students can get the same education and start the first grade on an evening playing field.

"To merge those gives a better chance for alignment for those preschool teachers to have really critical conversations with kindergarten teachers," Superintendent Ron Drzewiki said. "and for kindergarten teachers to have a chance to talk with preschool staff about child development and transitioning children with a gentle approach."

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