University of Delaware College of Education and Human Development
Department of Human Development & Family Studies
Delaware Department of Education
Delaware Office of Early Learning
Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood

Stars Program Spotlights

We are proud of all of the early childhood and school-age care educators in Delaware, for opening their doors to young children and providing early learning and nurturing to our youngest citizens. We enjoy celebrating the achievements and success of our shining stars. Send us pictures and a brief description of your program, why you chose early childhood as a profession, what you love about early learning and caring for children, how you connect with families and your community, and we will “Spotlight” you! Please send to

Program Spotlight: North Smyrna Preschool Program

When you walk into a classroom in the North Smyrna Preschool Program in the Smyrna School District, you’ll notice that children are quietly playing together while teachers are using their play to teach shapes and numbers. What doesn’t strike you is that fifty percent of the classroom includes children with special needs.

This Star 5 program is a Part B/619 program that serves both children with special needs and typically developing peers in inclusive classrooms and was one of the first school-based programs to apply to Delaware Stars close to six years ago.

In the beginning of this partnership, some staff were concerned whether Stars tools, particularly ECERS-R, would work in inclusive classrooms. “At first, we were afraid of Stars, but our TA kept working with us to adapt and the results have been extremely positive,” says Carissa Stevens, the program coordinator.

Jessica Allabaugh, the three-year-old teacher agrees. “It seemed overwhelming but using Stars tools makes sense and has given our teachers more options.”

Through the dedication and vision of Carissa and her staff, along with support from their TA, the program has made a daily practice of using Stars tools and strategies. This tireless commitment has included staff trainings, small group discussions, individual classroom observations with feedback, and hours spent working after school and during plan/lunch times.

Now, the activities in the classroom are more child-directed versus teacher-led. “Children are taking the lead and we are incorporating teaching,” adds Tiyana Mullin, a four-year-old teacher.

Everyone is benefiting in these classrooms. The students are learning from each other, serving as role models, and learning compassion. Teachers are thinking outside of the box and trying new strategies with support from their Stars TA. Families are building community to support each other.

“Stars has given opportunities to everybody,” says Carissa. “The inclusion program has helped us focus on developmental progress for all our children.”

If you are thinking about joining Delaware Stars or would like to talk to someone about joining, please contact us at 302-831-3239 or email

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Thank you for visiting the Delaware Stars for Early Success website. Delaware Stars is a program funded and administered by Delaware Department of Education, managed by the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.