Grand Beginnings hires new executive director
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado
Founding director of the former C Lazy U preschool Sheryl Shushan started her new job last week as executive director of Grand Beginnings.
Grand Beginnings is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting early-education outlets in the county. The organization, which sprouted out of the Samaritan Mountain Family Center, has been a resource for families and child-care providers since 2000.
A past board member of Grand Beginnings, Shushan directed the C Lazy U Preschool for 14 years along with the ranch’s children’s programs. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and is obtaining a master’s from the University of Denver in educational administration with an emphasis in early childhood education.
Through the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, the University of Denver and the Clayton Foundation, Shushan was one of 20 individuals in the state in 2007 awarded a scholarship for her schooling focused on early childhood education.
“I just think that early childhood education is the foundation for future school success,” said Shushan. “There’s a tremendous amount of brain development that occurs prior to the age of 5. During that time, it is important that (children) have quality learning experiences, which can be formal learning experiences or learning experiences at home.”
Prior to Kindergarten, young individuals crave exposure to the social-emotional aspects of learning. Students “need to be able to follow instructions, be part of a group, share and feel confident and have self esteem, so that’s really what early childhood education is,” Shushan said. “If you don’t have that, it’s really hard for children to learn.”
Grand Beginnings serves as not only a referral agency linking parents to the 27 or so licensed centers and in-home providers in Grand County, but also links in-home providers and preschool employees with professional development and direction on preparing youngsters for kindergarten.
The organization encourages licensed childcare providers to enter into the state’s star rating system, which opens doors to funding for program enhancements.
“I think it’s great for Grand Beginnings that I understand child development and I also understand the challenges of running a center,” Shushan said. “To pay quality teachers and charge the parents a reasonable rate – balancing those things is very difficult, and yet early childhood education is so important.”
Where the early education centers lacked openings just a few years ago in Grand County, the economic downturn may have changed that.
“I think we’re going through a change with early childhood because when people are under economic strain they have to pull back wherever they can,” Shushan said, adding that although some preschools are experiencing lower numbers, there remains a lower percentage of slots available for infants and toddlers.
Grand Beginnings can help families find temporary tuition assistance for early childhood education.
And it works with other community agencies and nonprofits to get children ready for school, including working with school districts on their kindergarten-readiness plans.
The organization not only supports professional childcare providers, but also caretakers with children not enrolled in preschool or daycare, helping individuals understand the types of activities important for development such as reading to youngsters at an early age to promote literacy.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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