The University’s major goal is to expand the Alvernia Montessori School into the Alvernia University Montessori School and Center for Early Childhood Development and Family Services. The Center’s role will be to provide a range of services for children and their families that can improve the quality of life for all young children, including those with special needs. The philosophy of the Center includes a framework from an interdisciplinary approach to education, evaluation, service, parent training, community outreach, and family advocacy. The Center will focus on critical social issues that impact the education and preparation of young children for school, such as poverty, parental support, health and mental health, and literacy. The work would be grounded in a core set of values of the Alvernia Montessori School that:
- Provides a foundation for children from diverse backgrounds and with diverse abilities
- Understands that young children are capable and competent individuals who develop at different rates but whose developmental domains are highly interrelated
- Recognizes that family is the first teacher and primary caregiver, and therefore engage children and their families in a set of holistic experiences that support the activities of the Montessori School, the Center and the community
- Promotes approaches that are family and child-centered and community-based
These values will be reflected in Alvernia’s Core Franciscan Values. The Center’s key strategies will include implementing partnerships, collaborative approaches, and participatory action with families and community. The Center would undertake a wide variety of training activities to improve the quality of the human services workforce.
The center would also provide an opportunity for the rest of the university to examine the social issues of poverty, health and mental health inequities, homelessness, violence and public policy. The Alvernia University Montessori School and Center for Early Childhood Development and Family Services could become a model for this in private higher education.
In addition, new graduate programs for reading specialists and school psychologists could benefit further program development and service opportunities. With its focus on interdisciplinary training programs, the Center would prepare individuals for leadership roles in the provision of services to the community. Above all, Alvernia students will benefit in that their preparation for their professional roles. Pennsylvania Early Child Standards state that the school experience consists of much more than the academic content that teachers share with students every day.