Early Learning Center (ELC) Director Marge Weiner said she and her staff looked on with pride as some of the students they had in the ELC program back when they were three, four and five years old celebrated major milestones this spring. They may be college graduates now but they will always be family to the staff of the ELC staff at Gateway Community College (GCC).
Among the many ELC alumni graduating this year were two sisters, Norrisa and Monique Haynes; both attended the Modified Montessori program at the ELC when they were preschoolers. Norrisa received an M.D. from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and Monique, a bachelor’s degree from Yale University Monday.
Their father, Norris Haynes, a New Haven psychologist, said the ELC helped them to develop their passion for learning.
Norrisa, a graduate of Yale University with a Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) from Harvard University, received her M.D. this month from Columbia. In June, she begins her residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. “She is going to be a cardiologist,” said her father.
Monique graduated Monday from Yale University, receiving her bachelor’s degree. She will return to Yale for a year to complete her M.P.H. and then go on to medical school. “It’s a very happy time for our family,” Norris Haynes said.
“We frequently receive this wonderful news from returning families, alums and friends in the community,” said ELC Director Marge Weiner. “Partnering with families and community support are essential in supporting this learning experience. A quality early childhood program provides the requisite skills for kindergarten and lifelong learning.”
Haynes said his daughters' ELC teachers at the Modified Montessori program created a very rich and stimulating environment. “They were supportive of all of the children and, from an early age, instilled in them a sense of self and they began to believe they could accomplish things,” he said.
At the time, Dr. Haynes and his wife Monica visited the classroom often. “All of the parents tended to be very involved in the classroom. It was a nice network of parents,” he said. “Being involved in their educational process sends a very positive message to children, that you value what they do at school.” He said that kind of partnership is built into the very fabric of the Early Learning Center.
Five years ago, when Norrisa received her first degree from Yale, she received a congratulations card in the mail from Susan Glynn, her ELC teacher. He said the whole family was surprised and quite touched. “That meant so much,” he said.