St. Joseph Early Learning Center, (ELC) in Martinsburg, is currently restructuring due to the St. Joseph Catholic School beginning a Pre-K classroom this fall.
Kirsten Huff, Director of the ELC, is leading the way with the help of the Principal of St. Joseph School Michelle Hombs. The restructuring is an effort to have classrooms of different age groups of learning so each age has its own area to play, learn, and do activities.
The Early Learning Center was opened in August of 2001 in a classroom at St. Joseph School, and in January, 2002, moved to its current location in the old convent of the St. Joseph Parish grounds. The program currently offers childcare and education to 28 children, and has openings for children ages 2-5. The ELC accepts children on a part-time as well as full-time basis. The ELC is grateful for the funding provided by the United Way of Audrain County and all donations received from a very supportive community and parish organizations such as the Knights of Columbus Council No. 1270, the Martinsburg Card Club, and many parent volunteers.
The six-week to two year old room is taught by Allie Scott and Kirsten Huff. Allie has been with the ELC since September of 2013, starting as a sub, and has been the full-time infant room teacher since February of 2014. Kirsten has been with the Early Learning Center since August of 2012, starting as the four-five year old room teacher, then in February 2014, she became the ELC Director. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
The next level of learning focuses on children age 2-3 years. It is taught by Crystal Hesterberg. Crystal has been with the ELC since August, 2016. This classroom focuses on the children learning their colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.
The final age group is the 3-5 year old classroom. It is taught by Allison Arens. She has been with the ELC since August, 2018. The children work on all things needed to get ready for Kindergarten, such as writing their names, writing the letters of the alphabet and numbers, as well as many fun holiday crafts.
Stephanie Martin is the part-time evening teacher. Each teacher and all volunteers are required to have a background check and complete VIRTUS training as part of the Diocese Child and Youth Protection Program. ELC focuses on a Christian-based curriculum and teaches religion each day through Bible stories, songs and crafts. They also have a large fenced in outdoor play area and have time for free play and learning to get along with their friends.
St. Joseph School offers Extended Care to its students after school until 5:30 p.m., each evening. Mrs. Huff is also one of the teachers for this program, carrying over her skills to help with the younger Pre-K children who are enrolled in the program.
For more information about the Early Learning Center, contact Kirsten Huff at 573-492-6398.