Early Learning Center
The Early Learning Center at Smith School is a vibrant, early childhood facility serving students in pre-K and kindergarten. We have eight half-day pre-K sections at the Smith School and one section housed with our community partner, Healthy Kids, at their facility on Hooker Avenue. The ELC has 16 full day kindergarten sections at Smith School.
Our student population is diverse. About 42 percent of our students are Black/African American, 41 percent Hispanic/Latino, 11 percent multi-racial, 8 percent white and 1 percent Southeast Pacific. Approximately 16 percent of our students are English language learners, and 9 percent receive some form of special education supports.
Developmentally appropriate, play-based learning is the cornerstone of instruction at ELC. Learning in reading, writing, and math generally follows a workshop format, with the teacher presenting a lesson to the whole class, followed by students practicing in small groups. This allows students the opportunity for hands-on application of what they have learned, while the teacher provides guidance and engages students with critical thinking questions. EngageNY’s CKLA (language arts & social studies) and Eureka Math modules, along with the Science21 curriculum, provide the content for instruction. Social/emotional learning is also an important focus at the ELC. The Second Step curriculum and the building of a community in each classroom are part of the development of interpersonal skills and emotional self-regulation.
Special programs provide additional support for students in a variety of ways. They include:
- Book Buddies Reading
- Guest educator/enrichment sessions: Poughkeepsie Farm Project, PHS Basketball Clinic, PHS Global History Readers, E-Tech Program Readers
- IBM Engineering Week
- Vassar VELLOP tutors
- Dental Van: Colgate Bright Smiles Clinic
- Backpack Food Program
- Free after school program for up to 100 Kindergarten students
We've forged many partnerships with community groups, including:
- Healthy Kids
- Vassar English Language Learners Outreach Program
- Community & Family Partnership
- Book Buddies
- Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie
- Mid-Hudson Migrant Education Program
- For student teachers: Vassar, Marist, SUNY Cortland and DCC
- Mohonk Preserve PondKeeper Program
- Community Foundation (facilitates getting 4 classes to Poughkeepsie Farm Project)
- Cary Institute grant \ Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Astor Family Services
- Home Depot (student construction project)
- Barnes and Noble (fundraising partner with the PTA)
- Mayor and City Council (Peace Ambassadors, capital improvements to streets and signage proximate to ELC)
In 2018-19, ELC staff and administrators developed this vision statement:
The ELC provides an environment in which our students feel loved, valued, comfortable, and happy. Education is fun, engaging, and student centered. Our students are self-directed learners, actively involved in play, inquiry, creativity, and collaboration as essential components of developmentally appropriate, academically rigorous learning.
We have an opportunity and an obligation to do our best for each child to build a strong academic foundation and a love of learning. We are also committed to enhancing each student’s social, emotional, and physical growth. We do this by providing an outstanding education with extraordinary academic experiences, while embracing and engaging families from all cultures and backgrounds.
We believe in our students and our families!
— The Teachers and Staff of the ELC