Wednesday, November 3rd marked the official ribbon cutting celebration for the opening of the Highland Early Center. Held in the parking lot of the new facility located at 397 Highland Avenue, this celebration represented the culmination of more than a year’s worth of commitment that was made to revitalize a space that once served as the administrative office for a housing community that no longer exists. The opening of the Highland Early Center serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for a community that often felt like they were “always the bridesmaid and never the bride.”
But timing is everything. The idea for the early learning center was conceived on February 6, 2020, during one of the most damaging weather-related events for the City of Spartanburg in recent years. As a tornado ripped through the streets of Spartanburg, a seed was planted that perhaps we could create a high-quality learning center for children in the Highland community, similar to what had been created in the Northside with the opening of The Franklin School. The task felt daunting, but after further consideration and the opportunity to leverage state 4K resources was presented, the decision was made to move forward in pursuit of a place-based high-quality learning center for the children and families of the Highland community.
The Highland Early Learning Center is the physical embodiment of what it means to leverage resources on all levels. This center represents the financial investment of local and state level funding used to reimagine a facility that can foster the long-term success of young children and the families they belong to. By having a reliable, safe space for young children to learn and grow, parents and families can pursue other avenues that help to strengthen the overall stability of the household. Whether it be returning to or increasing participation in the employment market, or continuing their educational pursuit, parents and caregivers can now feel confident in engaging in these endeavors because of the presence of this high-quality care and education center located right in their own backyard.
The Highland Early Learning Center offers quality learning experiences to children aged six weeks to four years. A total of 40 children can now be served through the Early Head Start classroom supporting children six weeks to two years, and two additional classrooms designated for three- and four-year-old preschoolers. The programming offered provides a full 8 hours of care each day, along with an extended school year schedule. The consistency of this programming will allow the type of dosage that has been proven to support optimal growth and development during the early years to better ensure kindergarten readiness and lifelong success.
The Mary Black Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this important asset for Highland in partnership with the Bethlehem Center. We look forward to seeing all the positive impact that will come from having this invaluable resource available for young children and families for years to come.
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