Creating a Legacy of Quality
The Learning Center, better known as TLC, has a long history of providing quality early childhood education to the Milford community. This past December, TLC celebrated its 41st anniversary. The center was one of the first Delaware Stars programs. And for most of its existence, 36 years to be exact, Cheryl Clendaniel has been a part of this mainstay in early childhood education.
“More than one-third of the children enrolled had a parent who attended TLC,” said Cheryl, program administrator. “We also have staff members that attended here as children.”
TLC serves about 125 children from ages infant to preschool and also runs a school-age program. The staff includes 22 teachers in addition to four administrative positions.
In a field where there is a high turnover rate, the average tenure for staff at TLC is ten years.
“We look for ways to invest in our teachers beyond salary,” said Cheryl.
“We allow for planning time, sessions with our curriculum coordinator, and provide activities to build community. We have high expectations for our teachers, but we make sure they know they are appreciated.”
“High expectations,” applies to TLC’s approach to delivering quality care and education. While they were one of the first programs to join Stars in 2008, they were in no hurry to rush through the Star Levels.
Cheryl was intentional about being “slow and methodical” in understanding the standards. “I wanted to live the standards and embed them into our practice,” said Cheryl. “It’s about the journey; it’s not about a checklist. Delaware Stars is the framework that pushes us to continue our quest for quality.” This approach has paid off – in 2017, the program received its Star Level 5 designation.