Opening of ACPS Early Childhood Center (courtesy photo)

Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. was joined by Mayor Allison Silberberg and ACPS’ Early Care and Education Workgroup partners to formally open the new Early Childhood Center on Friday, Nov. 30.

The group, accompanied by twelve preschool students, cut a ribbon at the newest ACPS school before taking a tour to see teachers and students at work in classrooms. Dr. Hutchings went on to join a lunch with Virginia’s First Lady, Pamela Northam, and many of the ACPS Early Care and Education Workgroup partners to discuss further opportunities for pre-K across the City.

The ECC, co-located at John Adams Elementary School, is the second school that ACPS has opened this fall, following Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School that also opened in September. The ECC operates as a collaboration between ACPS and The Campagna Center, under the leadership of Principal Heidi Haggerty. 

The ECC aims to increase equitable access to pre-K in Alexandria in line with the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan’s goals and mission to see every student succeed. The majority of the students enrolled in the ECC are English Learners whose families come from many different countries. 

“Right from the start there are imbalances that impact a child’s chance of a successful outcome – a good career, a college degree. The Early Childhood Center is an example of true collaboration to address some of these inequities and imbalances. It has taken many years of hard work and a deep commitment to the future of the children in our City,” Dr. Hutchings said.

Children who have attended preschool have lower dropout rates, have fewer issues in their teenage years, lower rates of teenage pregnancy and higher earnings once they graduate.

The ECC aims to offer West End students and their families a safe and welcoming space where the needs of the preschool child are the complete focus. This means having play experiences that develop social-emotional learning, the ability to persist and solve problems on their own and develop vocabulary.

“We are so excited to be able to offer this preschool opportunity to Alexandria’s youngest citizens. In early education, playing is learning,” said ECC Principal Haggerty.

The ECC is the result of years of planning with the City and ACPS partners, such as The Campagna Center, and is a powerful example of collaboration in the delivery of services to our families and commitment to our youngest learners.

This is the first phase of two phases of modernization for the new school. The second phase will take place next summer. The school will also have an outdoor classroom, which will offer a dynamic environment for complex and powerful play opportunities to enable students to learn through play. When complete, the ECC will include classroom space for 360 students in the ACPS VPI program, the Campagna Center Head Start program, ACPS Early Childhood Special Education and ACPS Preschoolers Learning Together.