Why We’re Here

Why We’re Here

Success in Learning  •  Success in Life

Quality Early Childhood Experiences

St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center Preschool provides the highest quality early childhood experiences that will ensure success in school and build the foundation for life long success for our children.

St. Mary’s believes that all children have the right to the highest quality early childhood education. The benefits of the child’s involvement in a high quality program are proven. It is our intention that all children and families who walk through our doors experience the best educational experience possible.

In consideration of the Declaration of Rights for Indiana’s Young Children,  St. Mary’s believes that:

  • ALL children have the right to be recognized as citizens of our state and deserve a childhood that enables them to develop to their fullest potential.
  • ALL children have the right to a high quality early childhood setting that values the involvement of their families and develops an alliance between school and home.
  • ALL children have the right to high quality health care, nutrition and safe home and school environments.
  • ALL children have the right to adults providing learning environments that respect childhood by providing opportunities for children to construct meaning and strategies by actively pursuing learning experiences that connect thought and action as opposed to being passive recipients of direct transmission of information.
  • ALL children have the right to have access to multiple ways of learning, doing and expression in developmentally appropriate settings that support their limitless potential and possibilities.
  • ALL children have the right to highly qualified educators who are compensated as professionals and are respected by the community.
  • ALL children in Indiana deserve access to public preschool and kindergarten funded by the state.

THE PRESCHOOL PROGRAM

Serving Children Who Live in Poverty.

Serving Children Who Live in Poverty.

The Preschool Program at St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center has a strong history of serving children who live in poverty. We live in this mission and give intense focus to this work in consideration of the high stakes involved. Our Board, donors and funders are dedicated to funding the participation of children who live in poverty in the Preschool Program. The cost per child is $10,000 per year. One hundred percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive substantial assistance.

The Preschool Program at St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center has a strong history of serving children who live in poverty. We live in this mission and give intense focus to this work in consideration of the high stakes involved. Our Board, donors and funders are dedicated to funding the participation of children who live in poverty in the Preschool Program. The cost per child is $10,000 per year. One hundred percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive substantial assistance.

THE EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM

Training Educators

Serving Children Who Live in Poverty.

The Educational Outreach Program provides professional development opportunities for community educators. The focus areas are the Educational Philosophy from Reggio Emilia, Italy and Applied Educational Neuroscience research and practices for behavioral health. Research indicates life changing, positive outcomes for children who are involved in high quality early learning programs. The intention of the Educational Outreach Program is to share practices that can improve program quality for other programs and therefore, improve outcomes for young children served in all schools.

The Preschool Program at St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center has a strong history of serving children who live in poverty. We live in this mission and give intense focus to this work in consideration of the high stakes involved. Our Board, donors and funders are dedicated to funding the participation of children who live in poverty in the Preschool Program. The cost per child is $10,000 per year. One hundred percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive substantial assistance.

1 in 4 Children in Indiana:

  • Live in Poverty
  • Are only read to 25 hours before 1st grade
  • Enter Cradle to Prison Pipeline at Birth
  • Start Kindergarten 2 years behind

1 in 4 Children in Indiana:

1 in 4 Children in Indiana:

  • Live in Poverty
  • Are only read to 25 hours before 1st grade
  • Enter Cradle to Prison Pipeline at Birth
  • Start Kindergarten 2 years behind

However…there is compelling evidence that shows that the effects of poverty can be mitigated by the child’s involvement in a high quality early childhood program. Children who are involved in such programs have higher IQ’s, achievement levels and graduation rates. They are less likely to be retained, enrolled in special education or incarcerated. This is why we do our work and why we have a special focus on children living in poverty.

“Investment in early education for disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 helps reduce the achievement gap, reduce the need for special education, increase the likelihood of healthier lifestyles, lower the crime rate and reduce overall social costs. In fact, every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education produces a 7-10 percent per annum return on investment. Policies that provide early childhood educational resources to the most disadvantaged children produce greater social and economic equity. We can create a more level and productive playing field for all by making wise and timely investments in effective education.” – James Heckman, The Economics of Inequality

The work being done at St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center ensures that our children will not enter school with great delays, drop out and be incarcerated. They will not progress along the “Cradle to Prison” pipeline. The great majority of our children enter kindergarten at a 5 year level in all domains of development. We expect that our children will be successful in school and successful in life.

Kindergarten Readiness Stats

Kindergarten Readiness Stats

Readiness Area

Math

English

Physical

Personal Care

Social Emontional

Pre Test %

55

54

83

96

84

Post Test %

78

80

95

99

98

2020-2021 School Year Outcome Detail (98 Kindergarteners)

All schools operated by schools and parishes under the guidance of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis admit students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. The schools do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. The Board and Staff Diversity Plan – 2021-2022 is reviewed and updated annually.

“The research is clear. Early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5 have great impact on a child’s development and build a strong foundation for learning and success later in life.” – US Chamber of Commerce, Institute for a Competitive Workforce

Children in High Quality Preschool Are:

Children in High Quality Preschool Are:

More Likely To:

  • Show improvements in reading and math

  • Stay in School Longer

  • Have higher IQ scores

  • Own homes and make higher wages

  • Show improvements in reading and math

  • Stay in School Longer

  • Have higher IQ scores

  • Own homes and make higher wages

…AND

Less Likely To:

  • Drop out of high school

  • Repeat grades

  • Enroll in special education

  • Develop drug or alcohol addictions

For Every $1 Invested in Preschool, society saves $7,000 per child in the future

For Every $1 Invested in Preschool, society saves $7,000 per child in the future

To be successful in first grade, children need to be read to 1400 hours. Children in poverty are read to an average of 25 hours.

Our History

Our History

St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center was founded in 1961 by a group of concerned parents who saw an urgent need for quality services for children with learning and emotional challenges. St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center began providing intensive, high quality early intervention to the children as well as support, mentoring and education to the families.

Twenty two children were housed in a dilapidated building until 1986. With little money to continue their efforts, the staff was hoping for a miracle. That miracle arrived in the form of 33 generous community leaders who built a new school and are now referred to as St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center’s first “Godparents”. What they accomplished is an epic tale of good heartedness, good fortune, and series of mysterious miracles that resulted in what Bob Thompson, called “the biggest little building in Indianapolis”.

St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center has grown since 1986. We expanded our program in 1998 to the Gilliatte building at Fort Harrison in response to the increasing demands for our services. In 2016, we partnered with St. Anthony’s to operate their two preschool classrooms. Throughout the recent past, we have also operated classrooms at IPS/ Butler Laboratory School and Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. We continually evaluate additional partnerships to respond to the community need. During the 2019-2020 school year, we served 228 children. Due to the impact of COVID-19, today we reach 144 three-to-five-year-old children in poverty and their families with a goal enrollment of 192 this year.

In September 2007, St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center began the Educational Outreach Program. Since that time, we have worked with early childhood educators in our community and beyond, providing professional development opportunities to teachers with the intention of improving the quality of experiences for the children in their classrooms.