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Middle States recognition of St. Ann early childhood program is first in country — PHOTO GALLERY

Bishop Malooly
Bishop Malooly interacts with students during his annual visit to St. Ann school in Wilmington on Nov. 6. Dialog photo/Joseph P. Owens

WILMINGTON — The early childhood education program at St. Ann School in Wilmington has been recognized as a program of distinction by the Middle States Association Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools. It is the first school in the United States to receive the award.

The program of distinction recognizes “a school’s dedication to early childhood education through a rich, child-centered philosophy and best practices focusing on exploration, questioning, creativity and social-emotional development as well as literacy and numeracy,” according to Middle States.

For the folks at St. Ann, they can boil that down into more succinct terms. The school has teachers and assistants who are very enthusiastic and dedicated to excellence in early childhood education, said Susan Bradford, the pre-kindergarten 4 teacher.

“They’re enthusiastic, and they’re experienced. They know how to handle things, and they’re just able to do what we’re called to do. We have nice children. We have nice families. We are just so supported to be able to offer this,” she said.

Most schools seek accreditation by Middle States, and a few years ago the previous principal at St. Ann saw that the organization was offering this for early childhood. Bradford said the process involved two years of study and work, and she noted the full support the program receives from the pastor, Father John Mink.

Current St. Ann principal Pat Grant said the award will help separate St. Ann from other early childhood education programs, which may help with its marketing. Bradford agreed.

“It just kind of pulls us out and makes us a little different.”

A total of 65 girls and boys are in the three classes. The students and their teachers are pictured above with Bishop Malooly and, in the back row from left, Grant, Colleen Albensi, Gaby Stella-Carlton, Donna Mills, Bradford, Bonnie Tsaldaris and Lisa Stewart.