By Jeff Gallatin
Officials at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center believe the upcoming Mini Arts & Nature Academy, which combines the preschool programs of the center with their BAYarts counterparts, will send students down the path to success.
An open house and registration for the academy, which debuts in September 2013, has been set for Feb. 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Both the nature and science center and the BAYarts campus will be open for people to walk through and view their facilities that night.
Teece Lester, the preschool coordinator at the nature and science center who also runs preschool activities at BAYarts, sees the upcoming union as beneficial for all parties involved.
“All the children will be getting the benefit of the best of the best of both places,” she said. “They get a strong background in animals and the natural world to go along with early exposure to science at the center. And they also get to explore different parts of their creative side with different arts activities, like music, pottery and other crafts, at BAYarts. And having children go to programs at both locations exposes them to both the children and parents which should help draw interest to both locations.”
Lester said the children also should enjoy the familiarity of staff at both locations.
“With young children, when they meet someone new, they can be a little scared or suspicious of someone,” she said. “But now, when they go to first one location and meet me or someone else, then they go to the other location and see me or someone else they’ve met at the other location, they’re more comfortable because they’re familiar with that person already.”
Lester said the combined program also can be beneficial when some of the educational work overlaps.
“We play music at both places, which is very popular with the students,” she said. “I would imagine that there will be some requests to play some of the same music at both. We also will have programs at both places which will emphasize development of the same type of social and motor skills which will help the students learn quicker because they’re getting the support at both locations.”
Lester said adults don’t always realize how much even young students can learn.
“They’re like little sponges,” she said. “Just one word or event can really sink in with them when they’re exposed to it.”
Lester said many people don’t realize that the preschool programs meet state of Ohio education and curriculum standards.
“We have for many years,” she said. “We have programs which are designed to meet those standards and prepare the students for going to school, but we also have them designed to have fun while they’re learning.”
Lester said parents and guardians also should appreciate the different options having both programs under one umbrella can offer.
“They’ll be able to consider and select what type of programs they want to put their children in,” she said. “They’ll be able to devise a pretty good mix of areas to expose them to. They’ll also be able to decide how many days and programs to put them in. If they want to send them to both places, they can do one, two, three or even four days (a week) and programs, or they can just do one or two days if they want.”
Frank Colosimo, the visitor experience and communications coordinator at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, said having Lester handling both facilities’ programs under one administrative umbrella is a plus.
“She is so good with the kids, they all respond to her,” he said. He cited one example of Lester taking a group of preschoolers across the street.
“Cars and other parts of crossing the street can be scary for them,” he said. “But they all looked at her and she let therm know she’s got it, and she helped them learn what to do.”
Informed of the upcoming merger, Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland said it’s another plus for the city.
“That is just great,” she said. “Both the center and BAYarts provide strong programs at all levels. Combining their two sets of programs will make it even better.”