By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published August 20, 2015
MARIETTA—As summer winds to a close each year, the directors and teachers of archdiocesan parish preschools take part in the Summer Education Institute.
The 2015 Institute, organized by the Office of Parish Preschools of the archdiocese, celebrated 10 years of offering informative and creative workshops on topics ranging from children’s literature to parent communications.
Terry Graham, who has been director of the Office of Parish Preschools for 11 years, started the very first Summer Education Institute. Thirty people attended the inaugural institute held over a four-day period.
“It was in OLA (Our Lady of the Assumption Church) in the parish hall,” recalled Graham.
In the subsequent years, the program was held on a Saturday with lunch. Graham then surveyed educators about what was most beneficial and tweaked the program to be one intensive morning of programs, held at Holy Family Church, Marietta.
“We got it off the ground,” she said.
Diane Starkovich, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools, welcomed the 2015 attendees. The keynote speaker was Comer Yates, director of the Atlanta Speech School, who presented “The Ten Commandments for Children.”
“He is really big in early speech,” said Graham of his area of expertise.
The programs focused on social and emotional development, ideas tested by toddlers, sensory integration, as well as spiritual topics.
30 parish preschool programs in Atlanta Archdiocese
Navigating STREAM, which incorporates religion and arts into the traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula, was also a focus.
“This year, that’s kind of a goal for the preschools,” said Graham on weaving STREAM into programs.
Among the presenters were Amy Daniels, director of the archdiocesan Office of Formation and Discipleship, author Frances Carlson, and preschool directors and teachers.
“I encourage good teachers to present (in order) to grow in their professional development,” said Graham.
Those participating in the summer institute receive training hour credits to help meet annual requirements.
“I try and get a nice balance of all sorts of things,” said Graham.
The Office of Parish Preschools works to support, monitor and enhance high quality programs that will achieve healthy spiritual and educational growth for children, families, staff and communities at large.
In addition to the preschool programs, representatives of Sophia Academy, Marist School’s early childhood development center, and the Holy Spirit Preparatory Preschool regularly participate.
There are now 30 parish preschool programs in the Archdiocese of Atlanta with the addition of a program at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Newnan this fall.
“I’m just so proud of what we do,” said Graham.
An overview of the parish preschool programs can be found on the archdiocesan website at: www.archatl.com/schools/parish-preschool-programs.