Farmington Public Schools hosted a grand opening/open house for its Farmington Early Childhood Center Sept. 1.

Farmington Public Schools hosted a grand opening/open house for its Farmington Early Childhood Center Sept. 1.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Farmington Early Childhood Center opens

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published September 6, 2021

 A gross motor room, a gymnasium, an outdoor classroom and play areas are some of the features of the Farmington Early Childhood Center.

A gross motor room, a gymnasium, an outdoor classroom and play areas are some of the features of the Farmington Early Childhood Center.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Public Schools recently hosted a grand opening/open house for its new Farmington Early Childhood Center.

The newest addition to the district was celebrated Sept. 1 at the center, which is located on Alameda Street in Farmington Hills.

The district merged Farmington Community School and the Alameda Early Childhood Center into one central location.

According to Kirsten Cicchella, who is FPS’s supervisor for early childhood education, the existing space at Alameda got a complete remodel, with a new addition added onto the building. She said there are 24 classrooms, with 10 of them having been added on.

Bond funds from several years ago enabled FPS to renovate and add onto Alameda to house all of the early childhood programming in one location.

According to a press release, along with the efficiencies of having one site, the center “allows access to the latest and greatest early childhood tools, technology and equipment,” with some of the highlights being the creation of a gross motor room, a gymnasium, an outdoor classroom and play areas.

Some of the other features of the center include child-sized furniture, bathrooms and learning resources.

The release states that the FECC provides developmentally appropriate and nurturing experiences for children 2 1/2 to 5 years of age, serving more than 300 children in tuition and grant-based, full-day and half-day programs, as well as special education classes.

When asked about the most exciting part of the center, Cicchella said it is a “beautiful new facility.”

“We have a beautiful gross motor room that overlooks the playground that’s all windows,” she said. “We have a large outdoor playground; we’re building an outdoor classroom — and just having all the services for parents under one roof that we have here for early childhood in the school district.”

Having just one location for a childhood center can also benefit FPS staff members.

“Previously, we were going back and forth between two schools,” Cicchella said. “We offered similar and somewhat different services, so staff would be going back and forth between various centers, including myself. This allows us to utilize our staff most efficiently to provide the most efficient services for families.”

Jennifer Harbron teaches 4-year-old preschool children, and has been with the district for more than 20 years. She also discussed the advantage of having one central location.

“That’s beneficial to have everybody that’s in early childhood now housed in one place,” Harbron said. “Today we did a training, and we finally got to do one in person. Because of COVID we’ve been doing them virtually, and just bouncing ideas off of each other. Instead of having to go back and forth between schools or having that division in our early childhood program, we now are one group, one unit, and there’s much more ideas.”

Harbron said that last year was actually the first for having one center, but that “this is the first year where we get to utilize a lot more things together.”

Cicchella said that there has been a lot of positive feedback about the facility.

“We did have the program open during the COVID pandemic, and the overall sense from parents is, I believe they appreciated the sense of community that the program offered for them and for their children, as well as having a developmentally appropriate and unique learning environment for their children,” she said. “We have a science center here that is designed specifically for young children. All of the classrooms were fully furnished with new furniture and so on, and the science room has all sorts of hands-on, engaging things for kids.”

Harbron said that at the center, “everything is geared towards our little ones.”

“Everything is their height; everything is developmentally appropriate; all of our manipulatives, (and) everything in the science room,” she said. “Everything in the hallway has a purpose.”

Cicchella said that each of the classrooms is staffed with a teacher and para-pro.

“All classrooms currently have two staff (members) in them,” she said. “Some of our classrooms, depending (on) how many children, like special education, might have three. … We also offer speech services (and occupational therapy) services. We have a social worker within the building, so any of that early intervention that we can provide, we’re able to do that now much more efficiently within one center.”

Harbron said she is “super excited” about the center being open this year.

“Each classroom gets to visit the science center,” she said. “Our playground is great. … In the back we have a naturescape, so there’s trails back there. … There’s a lot of different areas to have activities with the kids. It’s pretty exciting.”

For more information, visit farmington.k12.mi.us/ala.

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