Step Forward Early Learning Center Receives 2021 Partnership School Award

The National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University annual Partnership School Award recognizes schools and organizations that work to engage families and community partners in ways that support student success. This year, Step Forward’s very own William Patrick Day Early Learning Center received the award.


William Patrick Day’s Black History Month Celebration stood out to the award committee, specifically the staff’s strong encouragement of parent engagement and resourcefulness during the midst of the pandemic. “Even during the COVID-19 crisis, William Patrick Day continues to partner with all students’ families in productive ways.” said Dr. Joyce L. Epstein, Director of NNPS.


When setting out to design the event, the goal of William Patrick Day staff was to creatively teach students about the contributions of African Americans. “We wanted to engage the children and their families with hands-on activities and active learning experiences,” said Site Administrator Nicole Hawthorne. Staff then reached out to parent volunteers to host the program and lead presentations that balanced active listening, participation, and movement to engage the audience.


The virtual event started with students and parents learning through movement with an exercise video that featured Marvel’s Black Panther, a favorite amongst students and the main character of the highest-grossing film with an African American Director. The event also featured biography presentations from parent volunteer, Orane, who presented the inventor Garret Morgan, and Head Start teacher, Taja, who presented painter, Alma Woodsy Thomas. To close out the program, parent volunteer Ieasha led an art activity focused on Garrett Morgan’s traffic light invention, where those watching from home followed along to make their own construction paper traffic light.


Due to the success of the event, William Patrick Day staff hopes to host a similar event next year, involving more parents and activities to celebrate Black History Month. Throughout the year, William Patrick Day teachers and staff continue to strive to strengthen their bonds with students, families and the community through programs like the Black History Celebration.


You can still enroll your child in Head Start! Head Start serving ages 3 – 5 and Early Head Start serving pregnant women and children from birth – age 3 is still enrolling for the 2021-2022 school year. You can learn more and enroll your child here.


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