New Classroom Opens!
Students and staff share appreciation at recent Amazon visit
After five years, Wellspring’s Early Learning Center (ELC) was able to re-open an additional preschool classroom this fall thanks in large part to a generous gift from Amazon. The classroom had been closed due to funding and staffing shortages that are challenging early learning programs nationwide.
Wellspring’s ELC is the only licensed early learning program in Washington state specializing in serving the needs of pre-K children facing or experiencing homelessness. Key features include a low 1:5 teacher-to-student ratio, therapists and family support specialists, nutritious meals and weekly onsite health visits. Together these resources support a no-expulsion approach to care designed to help children experiencing multiple layers of trauma succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
In November, Taylor Hoang, Amazon’s Head of Community Engagement, Seattle, visited the ELC to see Amazon’s donation at work. “At Amazon we believe in the transformative power of education and the importance of early learning to help children unlock their potential,” said Hoang. “Wellspring’s Early Learning Center is providing essential preschool programing for our most vulnerable youths and we are happy to support its continued growth.”
Left to Right: Amazon’s Head of Community Engagement, Seattle, Taylor Hoang; Wellspring CEO Heather Fitzpatrick; and ELC Teacher Sylvia Russ, with preschool students.
This vital funding couldn’t have come at a more critical time. The pandemic and rising inflation have made it even more challenging to find and keep lead teachers. In Washington state, for early learning programs to maintain their licenses, lead teachers are required to have AA degrees or higher in early childhood education or a Washington state teaching certificate.
According to Early Learning Center Director Venesa Swan, “It can be challenging to compete with higher paying jobs in the public schools and elsewhere. Thanks to Amazon’s generosity and other private and public funding we can offer competitive wages and benefits coupled with recruitment and retention incentives that enable us to serve more children facing homelessness.”